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Wrong-Way Driver Causes Fatal Head-On Collision on I-70 in Ohio

Signs on the off-ramp of a motorway. No cycles, no pedestrians, wrong way.

A Columbus car accident lawyer explains what you should know

A head-on collision involving a driver going the wrong way on Interstate 70 in West Jefferson, Ohio recently resulted in a fatality, highlighting the danger of wrong-way crashes on divided highways.

The fatal crash happened on a recent Sunday morning at around 6 a.m. on I-70 East near Route 29/Urbana-West Jefferson Road in Jefferson Township, according to The Columbus Dispatch and several other news outlets, including NBC 4 News Columbus.

One of the vehicles was heading west on the eastbound side of the highway when the driver crashed head-on into a pick-up truck, causing both vehicles to catch fire. The wrong-way driver died at the scene of the accident. The other driver was transported to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. The highway was closed for nearly four hours due to the fatal crash, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

“Fatalities from these crashes are on the rise”

Head-on collisions caused by wrong-way drivers have become increasingly common in recent years. Each year, an estimated 500 people nationwide die in wrong-way head-on collisions, according to a study conducted earlier this year by the AAA Foundation For Public Safety. That figure, based on statistics from 2015 to 2018, is 34 percent higher than the number of wrong-way head-on collisions between 2010 and 2014, when 375 people on average were killed in such accidents nationwide.

“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.”

As for Ohio, the problem is just as bad, according to statistics compiled by the Ohio Department of Transportation and reported on by The Dayton Daily News earlier this year. Between 2011 and 2020, there were 595 wrong-way head-on collisions in Ohio, an average of 59 wrong-way crashes each year. Public safety officials described the problem in Ohio as “a persistent and devastating threat.”

Why wrong-way accidents happen

Wrong-way crashes happen for many different reasons. Some of the most common causes cited by researchers nationwide and in Ohio include:

  • Alcohol – Drinking and driving was a factor in more than 60 percent of wrong-way accidents, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study.
  • Confusion – “Most of the time we have wrong crashes because people get on a ramp and go the wrong way or they do a U-Turn and get confused and go the wrong way,” Pat Brown, driving school supervisor at AAA Allied Group, said in an interview with The Dayton Daily News.
  • Distraction – A driver who is texting while driving, looking at their phone, or engaging in other distracting behavior may not see “wrong way” signs on offramps for highways, according to Ohio officials.
  • Alone – Drivers who are alone and don’t have someone with them in the vehicle to alert them that they’re driving the wrong way are more likely to be involved in such a crash, according to the AAA Foundation study.
  • Age – Drivers over 70 years old are more likely to be involved in wrong-way accidents, according to the AAA Foundation study.

How to prevent wrong-way crashes

Researchers identified several steps for preventing wrong-way drivers in the future. Such steps include:

  • Installing additional signage on and near on and off-ramps, which alerts drivers that they are driving the wrong way on the highway.
  • Increasing drunk driving enforcement since impaired drivers are more likely to cause wrong-way accidents and other types of collisions.
  • Painting directional arrows on the pavement for on and off-ramps for highways.
  • Installing reflectors in the wrong direction alongside on and off-ramps for highways that shine in the headlights when a driver is driving in the wrong direction.

What a car accident attorney can do to help

At Smith Law Office, we know how to handle complex cases. Our legal team has decades of experience dealing with injury claims in Columbus and throughout Central Ohio. As your attorney, we can investigate your crash, preserve evidence, and build a compelling case in support of your claim as we advocate for the compensation you deserve.

Discover what we can do for you and contact our law firm to schedule a free case evaluation with a Columbus car accident lawyer. We have two offices conveniently located in Columbus on Horizons Drive and East Gay Street.

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Scott Smith is a lawyer based out of Columbus, Ohio. He works hard to protect the rights of personal injury victims. He has three decades of experience in Central Ohio in cases ranging from car and truck accidents to premises liability.

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