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The dangers of drivers driving the wrong way on highways

Every year, a number of New Yorkers are injured or killed in accidents caused by drivers who are driving the wrong way on divided highways. These accidents, while infrequent, are much more likely to be fatal than are other types of accidents, leading the National Transportation Safety Board to have a special interest in them.

The NTSB has been studying data from wrong-way accidents since 1968. Its analysis has led to the issuance of numerous recommendations aimed at reducing the accidents as well as collecting evidence from them. In more than half of the cases, the NTSB has found that the wrong-way driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident. The agency has thus included recommendations regarding the collection and testing of toxicology evidence after an accident has occurred.

According to the NTSB, although wrong-way drivers account for only 3 percent of all fatal accidents, in 20 percent of them someone is killed. Several states have also conducted their own research into the issue. Michigan found that wrong-way driving accidents were fatal 22 percent of the time. A Virginia study revealed that people were 27 times more likely to die when they are involved in wrong-way accidents than other accident types. Finally, a similar study in California found the increased fatality rate was 12 times higher.

Motor vehicle collisions carry risks of serious personal injuries or deaths. As all of these studies have demonstrated, the risk is much higher when the at-fault driver has a head-on collision on a high-speed interstate highway. When a person is killed by such a negligent driver, the surviving family members may want to discuss with an attorney the filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party that would seek the damages that are allowable by statute.

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