Wrong-Way Crashes in Sacramento and How To Avoid Them

image of a Wrong-Way signThere is nothing scarier as a driver than finding out you are going the wrong way on a highway. This can send many people into a panic. Wrong-way crashes, the result of various driver errors, often cause serious or even fatal damages.

Below, Arnold Law Firm discusses wrong-way crashes, including the common causes and how to avoid being involved in one of these collisions.

Injured in a crash caused by a negligent driver? Our experienced auto accident lawyers in Sacramento are here to help. Call our law offices 24/7 to discuss your situation and potential legal options. Your initial consultation is completely FREE.

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Are Wrong-Way Crashes Common in Sacramento?

Wrong-way crashes are extremely rare. They only account for about one percent of crashes on state highways. However, when they occur, they are often fatal.

In Sacramento, wrong-way crashes cause approximately 300 to 400 deaths each year. Even one death is too many.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Sacramento’s Wrong-Way Crashes?

The biggest cause of wrong-way crashes is human error. The force of impact because two vehicles are traveling towards each other at a high rate of speed is what makes them so deadly.

The most common driver errors that may lead to a wrong-way crash include:

Driver Impairment

One of the leading causes of wrong-way driving crashes is driver impairment. There are various reasons a driver may become impaired, but often it is down to alcohol, drugs or being tired. Drivers in any of these conditions may easily become confused and enter highways, ramps or one-way streets going in the wrong-direction.

Elderly Drivers

Older drivers may often have impaired vision or become confused in certain situations, such as on complex highways or where exits and entrances are poorly marked.

Poor Signage

Sometimes signage on highways and other busy routes is not the best. Even on rural roads, having clear road markings is critical to drivers. When signage is either not clear or absent altogether, drivers may easily lose their way, miss exits or warning signs and end up driving in the wrong direction.

Issues Related to Nighttime Driving

Many people have a harder time driving at night. Nighttime driving poses difficulties for many people because things are harder to see in the dark. Some people may have eye conditions that reduce their depth perception. Driving at night exacerbates visual impairment of any kind. Bad weather, such as heavy rainfall, adds another layer of difficulty for drivers, making it harder to see exit signs and other road markings.

Driver Distractions

Distractions inside or outside the vehicle could cause a driver to miss their exit signs or other road markings. Looking away from the road to do things like texting, deal with children or mess with vehicle controls are just a few of the dangers that could cause a driver to drift into the wrong lane.

Mental Health Issues

Drivers with certain mental conditions, like early onset dementia or Alzheimer’s, may suddenly feel disoriented. Feeling this way could cause these drivers to panic or become extremely upset, making them more likely to make serious driving errors or miss critical road signs.

How Local, State and Government Agencies Can Help

Local, state and government agencies can help reduce the risk of wrong-way crashes in several ways, such as by:

  • Posting clear signage: Drivers going the speed limit should be able to easily read signage.
  • Ensuring signs are visible: Signage should be well maintained, making sure there is no foliage overgrowth or other elements that block the sign.
  • Ensuring signs are well-lit: Signs should be well-lit so drivers can read them, even at night.

How Can Drivers Avoid Being in a Wrong-Way Crash?

Drivers have a legal duty to do all they can to avoid a crash. They also owe the same duty of care to other drivers sharing the road.

To help lessen the likelihood of a wrong-way crash, drivers should follow these and other safe driving tips:

Stay Alert and Focused

Avoid distractions such as mobile phones, eating, or any activity that might take your attention off the road. Pay close attention to road signs and lane markings to ensure you are traveling in the right direction.

Avoid Driving While Impaired

Driving while impaired by any substance or when you are drowsy creates a huge risk for ending up in a wrong-way crash. Impairments could include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol
  • Being impaired by prescription, over-the-counter or other drugs that impair cognitive and motor abilities
  • Driving while drowsy

Use GPS Wisely

Employ GPS navigation systems to help follow correct routes and receive warnings about upcoming turns and exits. Make sure your GPS is updated and set correctly before you start your journey.

Drive Defensively

Prepare for the unexpected actions of other drivers. Defensive driving involves maintaining a safe following distance, anticipating potential problems and being ready to react if another driver makes a mistake.

Obey Traffic Signs and Signals

Observe all traffic signs and signals. Pay particular attention to “Wrong Way” signs, “One Way” signs and “Do Not Enter” signs to avoid entering a highway ramp or a road in the wrong direction.

Stay in the Right Lane When Possible

Wrong-way drivers often drive in the left lane because they think it is their right lane. By staying in the right lane, especially at night or on unfamiliar roads, you can reduce your risk of encountering these drivers.

Verify Road Markings

Always look for and adhere to road markings that indicate the correct direction of travel. If road markings seem to be facing the wrong way, you may need to reevaluate your direction.

Be Extra Cautious at Night and During Bad Weather

Nighttime and adverse weather conditions reduce visibility and can increase the likelihood of wrong-way driving. Be extra cautious under these conditions.

Keep an Eye Out for Signs of Wrong-Way Drivers

If you notice headlights facing toward you in the same lane or someone driving against traffic, slow down, move to the right and stop safely. Immediately report the driver by calling 9-1-1.

Regularly Check for Updates on Traffic and Road Conditions:

Especially before heading out on longer trips or driving unfamiliar routes, check for traffic updates and any alerts about wrong-way drivers or other hazards.

Following these guidelines helps to reduce your risk of any crash, including a wrong-way collision.

Do I Have Legal Options If I am Injured By a Wrong-Way Driver?

If you get injured by a wrong-way driver in Sacramento, you may have several legal options for recovering compensation. You will need to file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider for damages such as medical bills and property damage.

However, if the insurance claim fails to cover all your losses, you may need to file a lawsuit against the wrong-way driver for additional damages, including pain and suffering and lost wages.

Should the wrong-way driver be uninsured or underinsured, you may be able to file a claim under your own policy.

Your best bet is to seek legal advice with an experienced attorney to discuss your situation.

Call Our Trusted Law Firm for Legal Help Today

At Arnold Law Firm, we are prepared to help you through this difficult time. Trying to navigate the complexities of a legal case on your own can be overwhelming, especially if you are recovering from injuries.

Our legal team has decades of experience and is prepared to guide you throughout the legal process. We are prepared to handle negotiations with insurers and fight for the full and fair compensation you deserve.

If you choose our firm to represent you, there are no upfront costs to pay. We only get paid if you do.

Experienced Lawyers. Proven Results. (916) 777-7777