5 Tips to Avoiding a Wrong-Way Driver

Sometimes people get confused while they are driving and go on the wrong side of the street.  It has probably happened to you and it is pretty scary when lights are coming your way on your side of the road.


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimates that roughly 400 people die each year from wrong-way drivers. Jim Avila from ABC News reported:

“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.” NTSB’s Chairman, Deborah Hersman, said these types of accidents were “completely preventable.”

When visiting Milwaukee, WI, I have been told that there is a high rate of people going the wrong way on freeway ramps. Normally a driver who has been drinking is confused and heading in the wrong direction. According to the governmental agency, drivers under the influence cause 60% of wrong-way crashes and 15 % by drivers over the age of 70.

So, how can you safely avoid these wrong way drivers?

1. Stay to the right: If someone is impaired while driving, they will normally go to the right side of the freeway because they think it is the slow lane and are afraid of being pulled over for speeding while impaired.


2. Always look further down the freeway.  A lot of drivers only look a couple of hundred feet ahead.  Make sure you really scan the area and look for oncoming lights.


3. Always wear a seatbelt!  It is the law and is there to keep you safe.  Remember, this car is coming at you.  that means that it is possible a head on collision and you can avoid serious injury if you are wearing a seatbelt.  Also, make sure your cell phone is secure and easily available when you are driving.  If a crash does occur and you are not capable of moving in the car, it is great to have your phone handy to call for emergency vehicles.  When calling 911, please give the license plate number, description of the vehicle, and location and direction of travel.


4. Look at the reflectors!  A lot of road reflectors are colored, white on one side and red on the other. So, if you are seeing red reflectors on the road, it’s you who is on the wrong side; stop and turn around.  If you are seeing white or yellow reflectors you are on the right side of the road.


5. Flashing lights: If someone is coming toward you, stay to the right and flash your lights.  This may be the wake up call they need to understand that they are not doing something right and actually pull over and redirect.


If you are on the road and you see a car going in the wrong direction, call 911 and report the vehicle, you could save a life.