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Heading down the road or highway and coming across a wrong-way driver can be a terrifying and catastrophic experience. Unfortunately, the number of these types of car accidents has increased over the years. But why is that? Our Phoenix personal injury legal team wanted to investigate to find out more.

Over 10 years ago, law enforcement officers and officials in the state of Arizona started working diligently, day and night, to lessen the number of car accidents that were related to people driving under the influence. These drunk driver accidents that occurred had also, unfortunately, been fatal.

The reasoning behind their hard work and efforts to stopping these accidents was due to the number of drunk drivers who cause an accident by driving the wrong way on the highway in Arizona. 

Even though law officers and officials have dedicated a great portion of their careers to addressing these fatal accidents, the threat still remains a problem in the state of Arizona.

Not only is this situation still a threat, but the number of wrong-way drunk driving accidents has actually increased over the past few years all across the state.

In fact, Arizona, in the year 2005, had witnessed just eight fatal accidents that were the result of a person driving the wrong way on the highway while under the influence. This information was proven by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

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In the year 2009, the amount of these types of crashes had already doubled and caused a total of 16 fatalities in Arizona. Sadly, again in 2015, the numbers were still increasing, as there were three fatal wrong-way driver accidents that occurred in just one month’s time on Phoenix’s I-10.

Due to the numbers constantly increasing, the Arizona Department of Transportation is always researching and looking for ways to create new and improved strategies that will put a stop to reckless driving and other dangerous behaviors drivers exhibit while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Driving the wrong way on the highway is extraordinarily dangerous on its own, but when you add illicit substances to the mix, it becomes catastrophic. 

Facts on Fatal Wrong-Way Driver DUI Accidents

In the year 2012, the NHTSA released a major report that stated facts about driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, which indicates that impaired driving is the first cause of a large majority of wrong-way driver accidents. Normally, without using drugs or alcohol, it would be less likely that a driver would be driving the wrong way while on a highway. The same study also states that these types of collisions have lead to larger numbers of accident fatalities than other types of automobile accidents in Arizona and across the nation. The reason for this is that when two vehicles are moving at high speeds and end up in a direct collision, the chances of a fatality greatly increases. 

When it comes to the time of these particular types of accidents, a large majority of them happen after the midnight hour while involving drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Many times the driver isn’t even aware that they are driving on the highway, let alone driving the wrong way.

Currently, law enforcement officers in Arizona have a policy that prohibits using deadly force to try and stop a drunk driver from driving the wrong way on the highway.

The reason they have this policy is due to the fact that following in pursuit after a driver who is driving the wrong way at a fast speed is also against the law. 

Instead of police officers pursuing a vehicle that is driving the wrong way, they will more likely than not, try and stop the driver by parking their police cruiser ahead of the drunk driver’s vehicle. Another alternative to stopping a driving going the wrong way is to throw out a spike strip in the path of which the driver is heading. Some officers will even try and collide their cruiser with the backside of the driver’s vehicle to try and place them in something called a pit maneuver tailspin.

Although putting in some effort is better than no effort at all, law officials are still trying to figure out a way to stop drunk drivers before they even have the chance to start going the wrong way on the highway. 

The Implementation of New Safety Changes to Help Wrong-Way Driver Accidents

In Arizona, authorities are trying every day to stop wrong-way car accidents from occurring. One way in particular that they hope to be beneficial is placing reflective, larger, and more noticeable “Do Not Enter,” and “Wrong Way” signs at the exit ramps of Arizona state highways. These signs are also put at lower heights than the present ones in hopes that the driver will be able to notice them more quickly as they will be directly ahead of them at a perfect seeing level. 

The reason the signs are being placed lower rather than higher is that research has proven that drugged and/or drunk drivers do not go out of their way to look ahead and search for signs that are placed too high. Officials are also looking to add additional signs in the same area that have flashing lights going around the edges of them to make them more visible to all motorists, including even those who may not be intoxicated, but who may be overly tired while operating a vehicle. Even the arrows on the pavement will be repainted on Arizona highways so they are brighter in the driver’s view, thus, giving all drivers ample opportunity to notice that they are heading the wrong way. 

Currently, the Arizona Department of Transportation is testing the use of electronic sensors at multiple off-ramps on the Arizona 101, one of the area’s largest and busiest freeways. These electronic sensors will be able to detect when a vehicle is approaching in the wrong direction. Once the vehicle is detected, the sensors will broadcast alerts to nearby officers to make them aware that a potential collision could occur nearby. 

Wrong-Way Driver Accident Statistics in Arizona

  • From January 1, 2019, to August 2019, there were 1,175 wrong-way incidents
  • In 2018, during the same timeframe, there were 1,057 incidents with drivers going the wrong way 
  • Out of the 35 wrong-way driver collisions in 2019, 16 of them were cases of fatalities 
  • In 2018, the number of wrong-way DUIs had doubled from the previous year 

Contacting a Dedicated Injury Attorney

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed by a drunk driver going the wrong way on the highway, it is important to contact a Phoenix car accident attorney immediately. By contacting an attorney, you will be able to seek justice in your situation and gain compensation for your injuries and property damage. If this accident caused a fatality, compensation garnered by a court settlement may be the best way to get the help you need with paying for any outstanding hospital bills and funeral expenses for your loved one. 

If you choose not to contact a Phoenix car accident attorney after your accident, there is the chance that you will be left with a pile of unpaid hospital bills while you are laid up from work and have no other way to earn income. Contact a Phoenix personal injury attorney to get a case consultation and the help you need to win your case and claim. The end results of winning your case will alleviate some of the stress you’re experiencing and give you the monetary support you need to take care of your finances while you are out of work. So don’t wait! Contact Hutzler Law today by visiting www.hutzlerlaw.com or by dialing (602) 730-4530. 

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Jason Hutzler

Jason Hutzler is the founding partner of Phoenix personal injury law firm Hutzler Law, and represents individuals throughout Arizona. His practice is primarily dedicated to personal injury and car accident claims, leveraging his deep expertise as a former insurance adjustor to navigate the complexities of insurance negotiations.

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