In 2012, it seemed like news reports all over the country were filled with driving safety stories of wrong-way drivers on our nation’s highways. You shouldn’t be fooled into thinking though that the danger of wrong-way drivers is just a media creation.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates that roughly 400 people die each year from wrong-way drivers. According to reporting done by ABC News’ Jim Avila:
“Most of the deaths occur from head-on, high-speed accidents. In fact, 22 percent of wrong-way crashes are fatal, compared with less than one percent of all other crashes.”
Deborah Hersman, the NTSB’s chairman, said these accidents were “completely preventable.”
According to the governmental agency, 15 percent of wrong-way crashes involve drivers older than 70 years old. The real danger is usually alcohol, though. Drunk drivers cause 60 percent of wrong-way crashes.
So, given these facts here are five defensive driving tactics Safe America recommends you use to make yourself a safe driver behind the wheel:
- Swerve to the right –
When trying to avoid a wrong way driver, swerve to the right. Many of the wrong-way drivers get on the freeways and immediately go all the way to the right side of the freeway, or the fast lane, because they think it is the slow lane. And because they are most likely impaired, they don’t want to get pulled over for speeding.
- Heads up – Look up, look ahead, and scan the freeway. People tend to look no further than a couple of hundred feet ahead of them. You can easily look ahead at least a quarter of a mile during light traffic and give yourself time to see the danger coming.
- Show your intentions – There are three common reasons why people drive on the wrong-side of the road: driving under the influence of an impairing substance like alcohol or sleeping pills, inexperience and lack of mental alertness. In each of these cases, if you have the time, try to be as clear as possible with your signal lights as to your intentions.
- Buckle-up & look out for the safety of others – The majority of crashes involving wrong way drivers re head on collisions and side-swipes. In these types of crashes, the difference between whether you survive and the extent to which you escape severe injury depends considerable on if you are wearing your seatbelt. If you have a cell phone in your car (and you should), pull over as soon as possible after avoiding the wrong-way driver and call 911 to report the situation. Give the dispatcher the license plate number, a description of the vehicle, and location and direction of travel.
- Quick! What color are reflectors on the road? – Did you answer white or yellow? That’s good, it means you’re driving the correct direction on the road. A lot of road reflectors used currently are duel colored, white on one side and red on the other. Most people don’t know this though, as they rarely are on the wrong side of the road. So, if you are seeing red reflectors on the road, it’s you who is on the wrong side; stop and turn around.