Early this morning (August 19th), Austin endured another wrong way crash, a wreck where a driver is driving the wrong way on a highway. Details are not out yet, but one man was killed and two women were critically injured following a head-on collision on I35 southbound near Airport Boulevard.
When a wreck like this happens, you may ask how it’s possible to be driving the wrong way on a highway. But the unfortunate reality is that these wrong-way wrecks happen far too frequently.
For example, earlier this month, teens headed to Austin were killed in a wrong way crash on I30 in Greenville, near Dallas.
In June, an Austin woman was killed in a wrong way wreck on Ben White Boulevard.
In May, two people were killed in a wrong way wreck on Parmer Lane.
In fact, this is a subject that I’ve studied and written about frequently. Some of my posts on wrong way crashes include:
- Another Austin Wrong Way Driver (2013)
- IH 35 Wrong Way Driver Kills A San Antonio Police Officer (2011)
- Another Wrong Way Driver Wreck In Dallas (2011)
- Another Austin Wrong Way Driver Wreck (2010)
- More On Wrong Way Drivers (2010)
- Another Wrong-Way Driving Death In Austin (2010)
- Wrong Way Drivers Causing Too Many Fatalities (2009)
- Wrong Way Driver In Austin (2009)
Most of these wrong way crashes share two characteristics. First, most occur at night. Second, most involve alcohol or drug use.
There are several things that can be done to try and minimize the risks of these wrecks, especially on highways.
Better entrance ramp designs. A core issue in these wrecks are confusing on-ramps and off-ramps. For example, here in Austin, Ben White Boulevard is a common site of wrong-way wrecks. That is probably not surprising given that the on-ramps near Ben White and Lamar Boulevard are some of the most confusing in the city. Making on-ramps and off-ramps simple help reduce these wrecks.
Lowering traffic signs. The data shows that “wrong way” signs are more effective when they are at the driver’s line of sight. These signs should be lowered more than typical street signs.
If you want to learn more about wrong-way wrecks, the Texas Transportation Institute has an interesting report on wrong way driving.