NTSB's effort to reduce wrong-way crashes and accident risk

Each year law enforcement and public safety officials in states like North Carolina encourage safe driving practices through enforcement efforts and public safety campaigns to reduce the occurrence of serious car accidents. Despite the efforts to reduce the risk of serious injury and death from traffic accidents, crashes still occur. Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board launched an effort to prevent one type of crash linked to significant injury: wrong-way crashes.

Statistics on wrong-way accidents

According to the NTSB, an average of 360 people are killed in wrong-way accidents every year. Wrong-way accidents are particularly deadly because many occur on interstates and expressways where vehicles approach each other at high rates of speed. In addition, more than 80 percent of wrong-way accidents are head-on collisions, and according to The Associated Press, more than 20 percent of wrong-way crashes are fatal compared to .3 percent for other highway accidents.

Often, wrong-way crashes are initiated when a driver makes a U-turn on the main portion of a highway, uses an emergency turnaround through a median, or enters an exit ramp in the wrong direction. A majority of wrong-way accidents also involved alcohol according to the NTSB. The NTSB reviewed data from more than 1,500 wrong-way crashes that occurred between 2004 and 2009 and found that nearly 60 percent of the crashes involved a wrong-way driver with a blood alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit.

Effort to reduce wrong-way crashes

Since drunk driving is a component in a significant number of wrong-way crashes, the NTSB believes further reducing the number of intoxicated drivers on the road will also reduce the number of wrong-way accidents. To do so, the NTSB is considering recommending that all states require convicted first-time drunk driving offenders to use ignition interlock devices. Seventeen states, not including North Carolina, have laws that require first-time offenders to use ignition interlock devices. In North Carolina, the law requires a person convicted for drunk driving with a blood alcohol content of more than 0.16 percent or a person convicted of a second or subsequent drunk driving offense within seven years to use an ignition interlock device. Alcohol remains the cause of around 30 percent of motor vehicle fatalities in the United States.

Driving wrong way evidence of negligence

Evidence of driving in the wrong lane, influence of alcohol or another traffic violation goes towards demonstrating the responsible party's negligence in a car accident case. When responsibility of the accident has been determined, victims of wrong-way accidents or family members of victims killed in wrong-way car crashes may be able to recover certain types of damages from the party responsible for the accident.

Depending on the extent of the injuries, a car accident victim may be able to recover medical expenses, lost wages, loss of property, and pain and suffering, among other types of damages. If you've been in a car accident, it's a good idea to receive a thorough medical examination since the symptoms of all injuries may not manifest directly after the accident. The type of medical expenses a car accident victim may receive include fees for ambulance services, doctor visits, physical and/or cognitive therapy, disfigurement, permanent disability, and in-home care services.

A car accident victim may also receive damages for lost wages if the injury interferes with the ability to earn an income. The loss of the accident victim's earning capacity can be impacted by time in the hospital, physical therapy requirements and other factors that inhibit the individual's ability to earn his or her normal wages. To obtain lost wages, the accident victim will have to show that the injuries have negatively impacted the ability to earn in the future based on past earnings.

Proving liability and damages in a car accident case can quickly become complicated. If you have been injured in a car crash, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can put your best case forward and further your ability to receive needed compensation.