Wrong-way drivers are terrifying. They’re often intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. They come toward you at a speed that seems nearly impossible, in a place they should never be. You have maybe a split second to react. A crash carries a very high chance of becoming a fatal event.
More than anything else, the road systems are designed to avoid these types of crashes. And yet they still happen every year, and they happen hundreds of times. Can you avoid a wrong-way driver if you see one?
The best advice is simply that you need to stay alert at all times. The sooner you can spot and identify a wrong-way driver, the better your chances of avoiding a crash. Remember, you may only have a second or two. Every fraction of a second counts. Keep your eyes on the road and watch out.
Remember the dangerous times
Driving at night increases your chances of getting into a wrong-way crash. Most of these accidents — perhaps because drunk driving plays such a large role — happen very late at night or very early in the morning. If you drive from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., know that your risks are higher.
Stay in the right lane
You should stay in the right lane all of the time, unless you’re passing. Not everyone does. Put special emphasis on this at night. A wrong-way driver, after all, thinks they’re going the right way. That means they probably will drive on your left, or their right. If you stay to the right, they may miss you, passing just inches from your car. If you drive on the left, you set yourself up for a head-on crash.
Steer for the shoulder
No matter which lane the wrong-way driver is in, you need to aim your car for the shoulder. Pull off on the right side of the road. It’s the safest place you can go. Swerving the other way means the wrong-way driver may swerve right into you. Get as far off of the road as you can, safely, and do it as fast as possible. Then call 911 to tell the police about the problem in the hope that they can stop the car before that confused driver causes an accident.
Your legal options
These tips can help, but wrong-way accidents are very hard to avoid. They’re just so outside of the norm. You never expect them and they happen too quickly. If you suffer serious injuries or if a loved one passes away, you need to understand all of your legal rights.