Federal Regulations Can Reduce Wrong-Way Accidents In El Paso
Wrong-way driving may not be as frequent an occurrence as other roadway hazards, but when it does occur, the damage can be devastating. The National Transportation Safety Board reports that wrong-way collisions account for just three percent of all accidents on the high-speed divided highways of the United States. They are, however, more likely to result in serious injuries and death than other types of highway collisions. This is due in part to the fact that wrong-way collisions often occur head-on.
It’s no surprise that state statistics have found wrong-way collisions to be anywhere from 12 to 27 times more fatal than other types of highway accidents. These numbers illustrate the importance of reducing wrong-way driving on the highways of Texas.
The measures which can effectively address wrong-way driving
The NTSB notes that a “substantial proportion” of wrong-way drivers are impaired by alcohol. As a result, drunk driving advocacy efforts and public awareness campaigns can also be effective at reducing the number of wrong-way collisions. This is, however, an incidental effect. It is also important for local, state, and federal government traffic safety agencies to address the problem of wrong-way driving directly, as well.
ITS International reports on some of the new technologies that are available to identify and warn wrong-way drivers. In the Phoenix metropolitan area, the Arizona Department of Transportation has installed 90 thermal cameras along a stretch of highly traveled highway. The cameras detect wrong-way drivers in order to relay that information to a traffic control center. This allows officers to be dispatched. More importantly, it allows warning messages to be put on electronic highway signs in order to warn both the wrong-way driver and other drivers in the vicinity.
In St. Paul, Minnesota, similar systems are being tested with even more options for alerts. Image Sensing Systems has developed a single-unit camera/radar combination which detects and confirms the presence of a wrong-way driver. When the unit detects wrong-way driving, an email or text message alert is sent to a traffic control center. Warning lights are illuminated from pole mountings or within the pavement itself in order to alert the driver.
Here in Texas, the state Department of Transportation has increased warning signs and other roadway markers. Researchers at Texas A&M are also studying how in-vehicle technology could address the problem of wrong-way driving. Connected vehicles would be able to both alert wrong-way drivers via warnings on their dashboards and transmit warnings to other connected vehicles in the area.
Ultimately, it is the responsibility of every driver to operate his or her vehicle in a reasonably prudent manner. Drivers who violate this duty can be found negligent. Whether a wrong-way driver was impaired by alcohol or simply not paying attention, his or her negligence can seriously injure the occupants of other nearby vehicles.
An El Paso auto accident attorney can help accident victims hold wrong-way drivers accountable for their dangerous conduct and protect a victim’s legal right to compensation.
Michael J. Gopin has practiced law in El Paso since 1987. Even after more than 30 years, he still remembers his first jury case. He graduated from the University of Texas in Austin in 1983 with a bachelor of business administration, majoring in accounting. He received his juris doctorate degree from St. Mary’s School of Law in San Antonio. Michael has successfully handled countless cases of medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, and nursing home negligence. He enjoys helping people “get their lives back in order” by providing high-quality legal representation and compassionate customer service.