Wrong-Way Traffic Crash Kills Four on I-81 in Lackawanna County


Saturday morning head-on collision claimed the lives of four victims on Interstate 81 near Clarks Summit. WBRE News reported that this was the third wrong-way crash in Lackawanna County in just three months. A man was killed in a wrong-way collision in Dunmore in the fall and another man was injured in a wrong-way crash with a tractor-trailer in Moosic just last month. Because of the severity of these traffic accidents, PennDOT is in the process of a wrong-way crash initiative review across the region.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration,  in the United States wrong-way car and truck crashes result in 300 to 400 people killed each year on average. Because these crashes often involve head-on collisions or opposite direction sideswipe crashes at high speeds, they tend to be very severe, resulting in serious injuries and fatalities.

Researchers from the National Transportation Safety Board reported that wrong-way accidents are more likely to result in fatal and serious injuries than other types of highway accidents. A study by the NTSB  analyzed data from wrong-way crashes from 2004 to 2009  and found that driver impairment by alcohol was a leading factor in wrong-way driving collisions. In 59 percent of the accidents studied, wrong-way drivers had blood alcohol levels more than twice the legal limit. The study also found that the majority of wrong-way drivers were between the ages of 20 and 50. When looking at the age categories of drivers over age 70, the number of wrong-way drivers greatly exceeded the number of right-way drivers. There were almost 2.5 times more wrong-way drivers between the ages of 70-79, and almost 30 times more for ages 80 and above.

The NTSB also found that highway design is contributing to the problem of wrong-way driving collisions. Mistaken entry onto exit ramps is a frequent cause of these accidents. Larger, repeated, and more visible signage and control devices to direct motorists may help alleviate this problem. Because most of these head-on traffic collisions occur at night, better lightening on ramps and roadways may also help to decrease the chances of a wrong-way accident. Experts also believe that putting a stop to drunk driving will help to greatly decrease the number of wrong-way accidents.

5 Tips to avoid a wrong-way traffic collision from the accident attorneys at Fellerman & Ciarimboli.

  1. Pay close attention to the road ahead of you and scan for lights coming at you or traffic braking or swerving to avoid collision.
  2. If you see a driver coming towards you, pull over safely and out of the way. Beep your horn to warn others.
  3. Call 911 immediately and report the location of the wrong-way driver.
  4. Buckle up. Wearing a seat belt can greatly increase the likelihood of surviving a crash.
  5. When entering a highway or interstate via ramp, be sure to stay focused and read all signs to ensure you are entering in the proper direction, including overhead and roadside signs, as well as pavement arrows or signs.

If you’ve been injured in a head-on collision or wrong-way traffic crash, call the car accident lawyers at Fellerman & Ciarimboli today for a free consultation. Call 215-575-9237 for our Philadelphia office or 570-714-HURT for our Wilkes-Barre office.

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