Preventing Wrong Way Driving Accidents

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Drivers who end up going the wrong way on a restricted roadway, such as a freeway or a turnpike, can become a major risk to the others on the road and cause very serious head-on collisions. It’s been known for decades that most such drivers get in that position by entering a freeway exit ramp. Given the number of wrong-way accidents on Texas freeways over the years, the Texas Department of Transportation should be doing whatever they can to alleviate this problem.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) notes that some highway designs – especially on freeways that are more than 20-30 years old – are more likely to cause drivers to go the wrong way on an exit ramp. But through effective use of traffic control devices and highway signage, state transportation departments can discourage drivers from entering freeways where they should be exiting.

Through the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), the NTSB attempts to set minimum standards for traffic control devices and signage. In all cases, state transportation officials are required to use standard pavement arrows on the road, as well as one standard “One Way” sign, one “Wrong Way” sign and one “Do Not Enter” sign at all exit ramps that intersect with a crossroad.

The NTSB’s goal is to create a uniform system of signage that all drivers understand and recognize, which studies show make them more alert to a problem. Some states have also added signage into the mix, in an effort to alert the driver that he or she is about to head for trouble. Since most wrong-way accidents occur at night, some states have opted to place the signs very low, at headlight-level, to make them more visible at night.

NTSB officials recognize that such signage may not be sufficient in some problem areas, and have recommended that state departments of transportation consider the installation of additional traffic control devices and signs in those areas. One suggestion is to add “Freeway Entrance” signs in more places, thus making the lack of one more conspicuous. They also recommend the use of more “No Right Turn” or “No Left Turn” signs on the approach to the exit ramp. The NTSB also recommends that more departments of transportation use more raised, reflective pavement markers on exit ramps.

The NTSB and the Texas Department of Transportation have to address the problem of wrong-way driving, before it costs us more lives. In the meantime, however, if you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident involving a wrong-way driver, contact a San Antonio Car Accident Lawyer at Hill Law Firm today.

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