At the end of October, 2015, ABC News 2 in Nashville reported that a 45 year old man was critically injured in a wrong-way crash with a box truck on I-40. According to their report, the police were informed of the driver going the wrong way, but were unable to reach him in time. The police said that there was no evidence of the driver being under the influence, and were just as baffled as to why the driver was headed the wrong way.

ABC News went on to say that similar crashes had happened along that same stretch before: in May, two people were killed, and back in 2009 another wrong-way crash was reported where the driver also died. The roadway has signs along it saying that it’s a one-way road, and so far there’s no clear reason why any of the drivers were traveling the wrong way.

What are the causes of a wrong-way crash?

While no new information has come out about this particular crash, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has documented some of the more common reasons. Their findings include:

  • Alcohol impairment. The number one contributor to wrong-way crashes is alcohol, according to the NHTSA. Their research shows that 71% of drivers in a wrong-way crash were at the legal limit while driving; 59% of them had a BAC of at least .15, nearly double the legal limit.
  • Being older does not automatically make you a poor driver; “However, across the population, steady declines in visual acuity and contrast sensitivity, attention and perceptual processes, and memory and cognition are reliably associated with advancing age.” Drivers around the age of 65 or 70 (or older) are involved in many more wrong-way accidents than younger drivers.
  • Drug use. The NHTSA didn’t just look at illegal drugs; they looked into cases where the driver was on prescription medications, too. As the report says, “Medications that have known effects on the central nervous system; blood sugar levels; blood pressure; and perceptual functions, such as vision, have the potential to interfere with driving skills.”
  • Signs and markers. The report claims that “erroneous entry” onto ramps is another leading cause of wrong-way accidents. On and off ramps that are not clearly marked with “one way” and “wrong way” signs, and/or are not properly lit, can be dangerous to drivers. They recommend multiple measures to help drivers avoid wrong-way turns and collisions.

None of these options seem to offer a solid reason for why the driver was traveling the wrong way down the highway, but knowing the dangers could help you avoid an auto accident on Tennessee roadways. If you have been in a car or truck accident, the team at the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm can help you. Please contact us to meet with a dedicated auto accident attorney in Nashville, Gallatin or Knoxville. We promise we’ll fight for you.