Arizona has one of the highest rates of wrong-way drivers in the country. In the first half of 2017 there were nearly 740 incidents of wrong-way drivers reported on Arizona freeways. Of the hundreds of incidents, four resulted in deadly crashes and eight others resulted in injuries. An MVA lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona can advise an injured victim.
Arizona is trying new tools to reduce wrong-way driving. The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) installed a pilot program of thermal camera detection system on I-17 in Phoenix. In addition to the cameras, larger “Wrong Way” and “Do Not Enter” signs have been installed on freeway entrance ramps and overpasses in both urban and rural areas.
ADOT also has a “Drive Aware, Get There” campaign that details what drivers should do if they encounter a wrong-way vehicle. This safety campaign hopes to minimize the risk of drivers being in a crash with a wrong-way vehicle. An MVA lawyer in Phoenix, AZ should be consulted when serious injuries arise from a crash.
One tragic recent example in Arizona was when a Salt River tribal police officer was killed by a distracted driver. On January 8, 2019 Officer Clayton Townsend was standing by the driver’s side door during a traffic stop when a vehicle crossed two lanes of traffic and struck him, on the Loop 101, south of the McDonald Road off-ramp. The driver was reading a text message from his wife about plans for the night and responding via voice-to-text. A witness saw the driver looking down at his phone before crossing two lanes of traffic and striking the officer.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has compiled a special report and found some trends in wrong way collisions:
- Drivers over 70 are over-represented as at-fault in wrong way accidents. This could be related to worsening eyesight as drivers age.
- Most incidents of wrong-way driving involve a driver entering an exit ramp.
- 78% of all wrong-way accidents occur between 6 pm and 6 am. This can be attributed to limited visibility after dark.
- There is a higher rate of wrong-way crashes on the weekend, likely because more people are out drinking and driving than during the week.
- The majority of at-fault drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Experts agree that state and local government will have to do more than just redesign roads and enforce laws. Seventy-five to eighty percent of wrong-way drivers in Arizona are impaired by drugs or alcohol. ADOT estimates that 2 out of 3 crashes are caused by drivers with a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit.
A fight to end wrong-way driving has to include efforts to prevent impaired driving. Friends can’t let friends drive impaired, bartenders can’t overserve, and drivers need to pay attention to medication warnings against driving.
One recent example of a wrong-way driver collision happened on Loop 202 in Mesa, a man under the influence was driving in the median when an off-duty police officer tried to pull him over. The driver turned around, managed to get past a cable barrier, and started driving the wrong-way toward oncoming traffic and he struck a car carrying 3 people.
The NTSB recommends an alcohol ignition interlock device for anyone who has had a DUI conviction as another prevention method. Harsher penalties for DUIs and continuing to educate the public about the dangerous consequences of driving under the influence may also help prevent wrong-way driving crashes and fatalities.
An MVA lawyer in Phoenix, AZ can investigate and evaluate a personal injury claim, there should be no fee to look into a case. Call the Law Office of Paul Englander, PLC today!