Wrong-Way Drivers and How to Protect Yourself
Involvement in a car accident is usually a tense and rattling experience for all parties, which is easily heightened if someone is injured. Despite this risk, the vast majority of people in the U.S. ride in cars on a daily basis and take comfort in the fact that it is possible to anticipate the behavior of other cars on the road in most situations. Of course, the most vulnerable time of day to drive is at night due to decreased depth perception and potential distraction from lights along the road and headlights on other cars. Combine the hazards of nighttime driving with the inherent danger posed by wrong-way drivers, and one easily sees a recipe for disaster. This is especially true when driver goes the wrong way on an interstate or highway because traveling at higher speeds means drivers must react more quickly and are more likely to careen out of control. Florida is trying to reduce the number of wrong-way accidents, since the mortality rate is quite high, by deploying new technology along the Florida Turnpike and Sawgrass Expressway in South Florida. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) installed flashing “wrong way” signs to get the attention of the errant driver and billboards to warn drivers of the impending danger. In addition, cameras send images of the wrong-way vehicle to state troopers and FDOT. Currently, this system is in use at 17 exits, and all but one wrong-way driver turned around after seeing the flashing warning.
While this system in South Florida appears to be working well, most roads have no infrastructure in place to warn innocent drivers, so it is important drivers know about countermeasures they can use themselves to potentially avoid a collision. An overview of some proposed methods to combat wrong-way drivers, and actions individual drivers can use to protect themselves will follow below.
Government Methods to Reduce Wrong-way Drivers
States across the country are experimenting with different methods of reducing incidents of wrong-way driving and typically target exit ramps since that is how most drivers end up driving in the wrong direction. Some of the more common techniques used to alert drivers they are entering the wrong side of the road include:
- lower and larger “Do Not Enter” and “Wrong Way” signs;
- placing “Do Not Enter” and “Wrong Way” signs on the same posts and on both sides of the road;
- lighting “Wrong Way” signs that activate when a car is detected moving in the wrong direction;
- putting red reflectors on oversized arrows marking the road; and
- changing the design of highway interchanges so drivers have a reduced ability to enter an interstate from the wrong direction.
Countermeasures for Drivers
Now that we know what the government is doing to make roads safer, it is time to learn what each driver can do to protect him/herself. One important tendency to note is that most wrong-way drivers are intoxicated and instinctively move to the far left lane (the far right lane from the driver’s point of view) thinking it is the slow lane. Thus, if you see someone going the wrong way, swerving to your right will give you a better chance to avoid the oncoming car. Also, scan the road in front of you as far as possible so you know what is coming. Finally, if you have time, use the lights on your car to signal the wrong-way driver and other drivers who may be in danger.
Talk to Personal Injury Lawyers in Florida
If you suffered an injury in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries and lost time at work. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado represents individuals in a wide variety of personal injury cases, including auto accidents. Contact us today for a free consultation and begin the process of making yourself whole again.