A recent study found a sharp increase in deaths nationwide caused by drivers going the wrong way, according to an article in the Pittsburgh Gazette.
Researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reviewed nationwide data from 2004 through 2019. They found an average of 360 wrong-way crashes per year in 2004 compared to an average of 500 annually in 2010-2019. The article reported three main factors that increased the odds of driving the wrong way and being involved in a fatal accident:
- Alcohol impairment. Alcohol impairment accounted for the majority of wrong-way crashes, as over 60 percent of drivers going the wrong way had a blood alcohol level greater than .08 percent, the legal limit in Pennsylvania.
- Older driving age. Drivers older than 70 years of age were more likely to be involved than their younger peers in a wrong-way crash.
- Traveling alone. Having a passenger in the car was shown to statistically help reduce the likelihood that a driver mistakenly travels in the wrong direction.
The AAA Foundation plans to work with the National Transportation Safety Board to increase programs such as alcohol ignition interlocks, police sobriety checkpoints, and older driver education programs.
In Pennsylvania, the state Department of Transportation has spent $1.5 million over the past five years to reduce wrong-way driving. This includes red reflective posts and programs to deter people from drinking and driving.