New technology may help drivers avoid head-on collisions
The State of Ohio has been working for some time to find ways to reduce wrong-way accidents, and help may be forthcoming at the national level.
New technology being developed by Atkins would warn drivers of hazards and potential collisions on the same route via an FCC-designated radio frequency. While the technology is still being tested, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is moving ahead with legislation to require this application to be installed on all new light duty cars and trucks.
According to research conducted by the Department of Transportation and published by My Dayton Daily News, this smart-car technology could reduce unimpaired vehicle crashes by 80 percent.
Ohio has previously worked with SpeedInfo, a California-based company, to try to detect wrong-way drivers on I-70 and alert law enforcement. The project was delayed when the sensors turned out to be unable to detect whether a car was in the eastbound or westbound lanes.
Wrong-way collisions are rare, but exceptionally deadly
Wrong-way accidents represent a fairly small percentage of accidents in Ohio. According to the State Highway Patrol, only 17 fatal wrong-way crashes have been reported in the last two years.
However, the circumstances of a wrong-way collision can make this type of accident particularly deadly. When two vehicles going in opposite directions collide at top speed, the combined force involved is huge. Wrong-way accidents are almost always fatal, and many lead to multiple fatalities.
There are multiple risk factors involved in wrong-way accidents, but by far the most significant is drunk driving. According to the Department of Public Safety, more than two thirds of wrong-way collisions in Ohio involved alcohol. In cases where the intoxicated driver's BAC has been found, it is often well over the legal limit - 0.15 or higher.
Unfortunately, new technology may not be able to stop impaired drivers from causing accidents, as they may not be able to understand the warnings they're given about an impending collision or choose to ignore those signs. However, the technology may help non-impaired drivers to get out of the way.
Other risk factors include driver fatigue, low visibility due to darkness or inclement weather, and driver age - drivers over 70 are overrepresented as at-fault drivers in wrong-way accidents. Drivers who are unfamiliar with the area also sometimes cause wrong-way accidents, especially in on-ramps and off-ramps.
By definition, a wrong-way accident is the result of another driver's negligence. If you've been injured or lost a loved one to a wrong-way driver, you have the legal right to hold the responsible motorist accountable.