A driver fleeing from police in Oklahoma City turned the wrong way onto I-35 recently, causing a head-on crash to occur and killing the driver. According to KFOR, police did not pursue the man once he had turned the wrong direction down the highway because the risk of head-on collisions is too great for anyone traveling into opposing traffic.
Wrong-way drivers on highways and other roadways are a leading cause of head-on collisions, since a driver who is heading directly into other cars is likely to directly strike another vehicle. Head-on crashes can also happen when a driver takes a curve too fast and veers into the opposing lane, when drivers try to pass on opposing sides of the road but don't see an oncoming car, and when drivers accidentally veer into the opposing traffic lane because they fall asleep or are distracted.
Because drivers traveling the wrong way on roadways is one of the most common causes of head-on crashes, understanding the causes of Oklahoma car accidents is key to understanding the causes of head-on collisions. Drivers have an obligation to other motorists to maintain safe roadways, which means avoiding the high-risk behaviors that can cause them to drive in the wrong direction.
Causes of Wrong-Way Accidents in Oklahoma City
Drivers both young and old can make mistakes which cause wrong-way accidents and result in head-on crashes. However, the causes of the accidents usually differ when someone young goes the wrong direction versus when someone old does.
For most young people, alcohol is the cause of a wrong-way accident. Alcohol can cause a driver to be disoriented and to enter a highway on an exit ramp, traveling in the opposing direction of other traffic. Alcohol can also cause a driver to stray over a double yellow line or median into opposing lanes, especially on two-lane roads.
National Transportation Safety Board data shows in 60 percent of crashes involving a wrong-way driver, the driver is intoxicated. When considering only wrong-way accidents involving people ages 20 to 39, the percentage of drunk drivers goes up to 65 percent. Drivers 20 to 50 are more likely than other age groups to become involved in a wrong-way accident.
Seniors over 70, on the other hand, are rarely drunk when they go the wrong way. For seniors, vision problems can be an issue as they may not clearly see the signs telling them which way to enter and exit a highway. Many seniors also continue driving for a period of time when it is no longer safe for them to do so as a result of physical or mental decline due to the aging process. In situations where seniors drive too long, they could also become confused and enter roadways going the wrong way.
While alcohol is not a big issue for older drivers, prescription drug use could play a role in explaining wrong-way accidents. Among seniors over 60, 78 percent use two or more prescription medications monthly. Prescriptions often have side effects affecting driving abilities.