Some of the most deadly car accidents are those accidents involving head-on collisions. Most head-on collisions are caused by wrong-way driving by one vehicle or the other. Wrong-way driving is illegal in Greenville County and in all of South Carolina. Yet, tragically, wrong-way driving seems to happen a lot on South Carolina roads and highways. For example, recently in December 2017, a wrong-way driver was killed in a crash on Augusta Road near James Drive in the early afternoon.
According to the report, the driver of a 2013 Ford crossed the center line and struck another vehicle head-on. The driver of the Ford was declared dead at the scene. The report further reads than an autopsy is scheduled to determine if the driver was driving under the influence of drugs or was otherwise impair. The driver of the other vehicle was transported to Greenville Memorial Hospital. Depending on the results of the autopsy, the victim of the wreck is very likely entitled to sue for negligence and to recover full compensation for his or her injuries and damage to his or her vehicle.
In another example, a mother and her three-year old toddler son were killed when the mother drove her Honda onto I-77 going the wrong direction near South Anderson Road.
Greenville, SC Car Accidents: Statistics Show Wrong-Way Driving Is Deadly
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”), wrong-way driving wrecks are much more likely to cause fatalities than other types of auto accidents.
According to the report, a “substantial body of state research, conducted primarily by state departments of transportation over decades, supports the fact that wrong-way collisions tend to have higher fatality rates than other accidents.” The NTSB cited a Virginia study showing that wrong-way accidents can be 27 times as deadly; a California study finding fatalities 12 times greater; and a Michigan study that found 22 percent of wrong-way collisions were fatal as compared to 0.3 percent of all highway accident.
Greenville, SC Car Accidents: Causes Of Wrong Way Driving
The NTSB identified three primary causes of wrong-way driving:
- Driver impairment from alcohol use and drug use — including prescription drug interactions;
- Driver confusion and disorientation — distinct from substance impairment; and
- Highway design, control device and signage errors.
The first cause is obvious. According to the NTSB, 60 percent of wrong-way drivers had some indication of alcohol or drug impairment. By contrast, with respect to “normal accidents,” less than seven percent involved drivers who were driving under the influence. Supporting the causal link to alcohol and drug use impairment, the NTSB reports that nearly 80 percent of wrong-way wrecks occurred during the night and nearly 60 percent occurred on the weekends; both time periods are correlated with driving under the influence.
The second cause — confusion and disorientation — is also supported by the data. The major concern here is the loss of mental faculties among elder and senior drivers. According to the data, the vast majority of wrong-way drivers are young. But the data also shows a telling pattern for drivers over the age of 70. According to the studies, drivers over 70 years of age account for only about three percent of correct-way accidents; but drivers over the age of 70 are involved in nearly 15 percent of wrong-way accidents.
Finally, the NTSB recognizes that signage, control devices, highway design and flawed pavement striping/wording can contribute to wrong-way driving. The NTSB indicates that, at minimum, “Do Not Enter,” “Wrong Way,” and “One-way” signs should be prominently placed. As for design, some exit and on ramp designs have been shown to provide distinctly different visuals for motorists approaching entrance and exit ramps. The more distinct and different the ramps look, the less confusion and less risk of wrong-way driving. Studies show that most wrong-way driving occurs on highway entrance and exit ramps.
Greenville, SC Car Accidents: Remedies For Victims
For those people and their families who have been injured in a wrong-way car accident, it may be possible to file civil lawsuits under South Carolina law against the wrong-way driver and maybe others who contributed to the wrong-way driving. South Carolina law provides for a victim to be compensated for injuries or property damage caused by someone else’s negligent, intentional, reckless, or criminal acts.