Fatal wrong-way driving crashes on U.S. highways are a persistent and devastating threat that is only getting worse, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Data analysis reveals there were 2,008 deaths from wrong-way driving crashes on divided highways between 2015 and 2018, an average of approximately 500 deaths per year. That is an increase of 34 percent from the 375 deaths annually from 2010 to 2014.
The odds of being a wrong-way driver increase with alcohol-impairment, older age, and driving without a passenger, the AAA says.
“Wrong-way crashes on divided highways are often fatal as they are typically head-on collisions,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “And unfortunately, as the data shows, fatalities from these crashes are on the rise.”
AAA works with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and other traffic safety organizations to educate drivers about wrong-way driving. Now, in light of the recent findings, AAA and NTSB are urging state transportation agencies to adopt driver-based countermeasures that address these factors, such as alcohol ignition interlocks, strengthened deterrence strategies like sobriety checkpoints, driver refresher courses for older adults and the installation of more visible signs and signals.