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Wrong-Way Accidents Yield Fatal Consequences

Car collision. Wrong Way Accidents

The consequences of wrong-way accidents can be fatal, and far-reaching, for victims and their families. The streets and highways in Nevada are designed so that traffic flows together. When a driver goes against this flow, it can have dire effects for him or her, as well as for those with whom the road is shared.

Car collision. Wrong Way Accidents

If you were injured in a wrong-way crash, or lost a loved one in such a wreck, you should not have to bear the financial burden of these consequences. Our car accident lawyers at George Bochanis Injury Law Offices can help you pursue the compensation you need.

What Is a Wrong-Way Accident?

A wrong-way accident is a type of serious motor vehicle collisions that occurs when a driver travels in the opposite direction of traffic. Consequently, the motorist may hit other vehicles that are traveling in the correct direction, striking them head-on or at an angle.

Nevada Wrong-Way Accident Statistics

Wrong-way driving, and accidents resulting from this reckless behavior, is a persistent issue in Nevada, and nationally. Nevada law enforcement stopped or responded to crashes involving 823 wrong-way drivers in 2022. That number is up from 755 in 2021 and 713 in 2020. 

One such reported collision occurred on the 215 Beltway, leaving two people dead, and three others injured. Both the wrong-way driver, and the man driving the other involved vehicle, died due to injuries suffered in the wreck. Fatal car accidents such as this highlight the ongoing wrong-way driver issue. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research found that the average annual deaths from wrong-way accidents increased from 375 per year between 2010 and 2014 to about 500 per year between 2015 and 2018.

What Causes Wrong-Way Accidents?

Numerous factors can contribute to wrong-way accidents, but many result from driver error. Issues involving the motorist that may cause such crashes include impaired driving, distracted driving, and medical emergencies. 

Impaired driving includes operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or while overly tired or drowsy. The dangers of driving high, under the influence of alcohol, or while fatigued include impairments, such as altered reaction times and judgment. Impairments such as these may contribute to motorists entering the wrong lanes and causing serious wrecks. The driver in the crash on the 215 Beltway had cocaine in her system and THC in her blood. Her blood alcohol concentration level was almost four times the legal limit.

Distracted driving also commonly contributes to wrong-way accidents. Motorists may mistakenly enter the roadway traveling in the wrong direction while their attention is diverted due to a distraction. Common driver distractions include eating or drinking, talking to passengers, using GPS, and sending or reading text messages.

While behind the wheel, some drivers may experience medical emergencies that render them unable to pull over. Seizures, strokes, or other such emergencies may cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles and enter the roadway traveling in the opposite direction of traffic.

External factors also contribute to the occurrence of wrong-way accidents. For example, weather conditions, poor road design, and missing or poorly placed signs can disorient drivers, causing them to enter roadways going in the wrong direction. The fatal car accident investigation procedure may help determine whether driver error or external factors contributed to the wreck.

When Do Wrong-Way Crashes Occur?

Wrong-way crashes can, and do, occur at all times of day and night across Nevada. However, there are times when the risk is greater. Approximately 70% of all wrong-way crashes in the state happen during the overnight hours. The increased occurrence during this timeframe may be due to more prevalent drug and alcohol use during the nighttime. Drivers traveling overnight are more likely to experience fatigue than daytime drivers, and visibility can be more difficult at night than during the day.

Like many wrong-way crashes, the fatal crash on the 215 Beltway occurred in the overnight hours. Emergency services began receiving calls about the wrong-way driver at around 2:37 a.m.

Accidents involving wrong-way drivers happen Sunday through Saturday. While statistics have not yet provided a definite link, it seems wrong-way crashes are more likely to occur on the weekends. Numerous factors contribute to the increase on weekend days, including more common alcohol or drug use and higher traffic volumes. In addition to weekends, wrong-way accidents also commonly happen on holidays, including New Year’s Eve and Independence Day.

Where Do Wrong-Way Crashes Happen?

Wrong-way accidents occur on roadways throughout the state. These types of crashes tend to most often happen on exits and on-ramps, as well as on highways. Poor design, confusing signage, and disorientation may cause drivers to enter highways on the wrong side of the road. Crashes commonly occur in these areas, and on highways, which have limited escape routes. Wrong-way crashes also occur on divided highways.

In the 215 Beltway accident, a woman entered the highway and was traveling south in northbound lanes. She had been driving opposite traffic for at least four minutes before striking a northbound vehicle in the far left lanes of the beltway.

Although less common, collisions involving wrong-way drivers sometimes happen in rural areas. Decreased visibility and other such factors contribute to wrong-way accidents on rural roads.

What Are the Consequences of Wrong-Way Accidents?

Wrong-way accidents in Nevada can have lasting, consequences. Those involved, including the occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, and other bystanders, may suffer serious or fatal injuries. Emotional trauma is also a common consequence of wrong-way accidents for those involved.

Wrong-Way Accident Injuries

Those involved in wrong-way accidents may suffer ranging injuries. Due to the direct impact and high speeds often involved in such crashes, the injures suffered are often severe or life-altering. Some of the most common injuries resulting from wrong-way collisions include:

Head and Neck Injuries

Injuries involving the head and neck are common in wrong-way accidents. For example, victims may suffer traumatic brain injuries, whiplash, or facial injuries. Brain injuries, which range from minor concussions to severe damage, can impact victims’ motor skills, cognitive function, and memory. 

Spinal Cord Injuries

The impact of wrong-way collisions may cause spinal cord injuries. Trauma to the spinal cord, which can cause partial or complete paralysis, affects mobility, sensation, and organ function. 

Internal Injuries

Contact with the vehicle interior, other vehicle occupants, or objects inside the car due to a wrong-way crash can cause blunt force trauma. Getting hit with such force may cause internal bleeding, organ lacerations, or other life-threatening internal damage.

Broken Bones

Wrong-way accidents commonly cause broken bones. Fractures of the limbs, ribs, collarbone, and pelvis occur most often, and may cause victims to suffer pain, mobility effects, and other symptoms.

Like the wife of the driver killed in the 215 Beltway wrong-way accident, who suffered injuries, those involved in such crashes often require extensive medical treatment and recovery time. A car accident lawyer may help them pursue compensation through a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or through a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

Wrong-Way Accident Prevention in Nevada

To reduce the occurrence of such crashes, Nevada has actively taken several steps. The actions taken by the state include implementing wrong-way driver detection systems that alert drivers and law enforcement that a vehicle has entered the roadway traveling in the wrong direction. The state placed medians, concrete islands, and other such physical barriers to help prevent wrong-way entries, and have upgraded signage and pavement markings.

In addition to infrastructure improvements, the Nevada Department of Transportation and other organizations run education campaigns. Such programs focus on awareness, and provide information about the risks, as well as prevention strategies.

What Can Drivers Do to Avoid Wrong-Way Crashes?

You cannot do anything to ensure others on the road are driving responsibly. However, you can take measures to avoid crashing with wrong-way drivers, and to avoid becoming a wrong-way driver yourself. 

Steps you should take include:

Driving Sober

Refraining from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can ensure you do not experience impairments that might cause you to enter a roadway traveling opposite traffic. Additionally, it can ensure you have your faculties about you, so you can react in time to avoid a crash should you encounter a wrong-way driver.

Staying Alert

While behind the wheel, you should avoid distracting behaviors. For example, using your phone, talking to passengers, or even eating and drinking can take your attention from the task of driving. Avoiding distractions behind the wheel may help prevent you from accidentally crossing into oncoming traffic, or entering a roadway going the wrong way.

Staying in the Right Lane at Night

Especially on multi-lane roads, driving in the right-hand lanes may help you avoid wrong-way crashes. The right lanes are further from oncoming traffic, making it less likely you will get struck by a driver who accidentally crosses the median.

If you were injured in a wreck with a wrong-way driver in Las Vegas, contact our accident attorneys at George Bochanis Injury Law Offices today to discuss your options for pursuing compensation in Illinois.

The George Bochanis Injury Law Offices was established in 1985. Before opening his office, Mr. Bochanis spent years representing major insurance companies in litigation cases and prior to that was a law clerk to a prominent local district court judge. Our offices have grown from a small one person setting to having its own well known office location on South Ninth Street in Downtown Las Vegas with 15 employees.

Years of Experience: More than 28 years
Nevada Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Nevada State Bar Federal Court of Nevada, 3rd Circuit

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Since opening our doors in 1985, the accident lawyers at the George Bochanis Injury Law Offices have been committed to helping injury victims get full compensation after slip and fall accidents, motor vehicle crashes, workplace injuries, and other personal injuries.

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