Arizona Wrong-Way Driver Fatalities

Personal Injury Attorney

On March 27, 2019 a wrong-way driver in a pick-up truck collided head-on with a passenger van carrying the UK duo Her’s and their tour manager, four people died. The band was on its way to California hours after performing at The Rebel Lounge in Phoenix, AZ. The crash occurred on Interstate 10 near Centennial in La Paz County, AZ around 1:00 AM. The driver was investigated for possibly driving under the influence.

This crash came one week after three wrong-way drivers were found on Phoenix area freeways within one day.

In April 2017, a fatal crash claimed three lives on I–17 when two sisters were struck by a wrong-way vehicle with a drunk driver. The wrong-way driver and one of the sisters were Grand Canyon University students. A lawsuit was filed against the bar that may have overserved the drunk driver.

Of the 840 calls received by DPS for wrong-way drivers up to July 1, 2016, 14 of the wrong-way drivers were involved in serious injury or fatal collisions. Fifty-one of the wrong-way drivers have been arrested for suspected impairment. In June 2017, a wrong-way crash on State Route 51 in Phoenix claimed two lives.

Governor Doug Ducey has publicly called for stepped-up efforts by DPS and ADOT to find solutions to reduce wrong-way driving. In response to this call to action, ADOT installed more prominent, large “Wrong-Way” signs at strategic points throughout the Valley. In addition, ADOT piloted a wrong-way driver detection system that uses thermal cameras to detect a vehicle entering the freeway from the wrong direction. The system activates flashing warning signs to alert other drivers and contacts ADOT and DPS.

As of the end of March 2019, the system had detected 60 wrong-way vehicles. The detection system is currently only along 15 miles of I-17, ADOT is gathering data to develop a comprehensive plan with technology helping to reduce the number of wrong-way drivers.

ADOT states that the system cannot prevent all wrong-way crashes, but it aims to reduce the risks with early detection of wrong-way drivers.

In Arizona and nationwide, DUI continues to be the largest factor in wrong-way driving cases. Both ADOT and DPS said that impaired drivers getting behind the wheel and entering the freeway in the wrong direction are a major problem during nighttime hours.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that drunk driving deaths increased in 2015 and 2016, the first time there was a consecutive increase since 1963.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports that according to NHTSA, 37,461 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2016. Drunk driving was involved in 10,497 traffic fatalities. That number is growing. Drunk driving was up 1.7 percent from 2015 to 2016. The data shows a 5.6 percent increase in overall traffic fatalities. The largest increases came in 2015 when overall traffic fatalities increased by 8.4 percent, the largest increase since 1964, and alcohol-related fatalities increased by 3.2 percent.

A personal injury attorney should provide a free and confidential consultation to an injured party, or family members. Contact the office of Paul Englander, PLC.