Imagine that you were driving home late last night on an interstate in Fort Worth or Dallas. Maybe you had worked the late shift or saw a movie. Suddenly a speeding car or truck was headed straight at you. You had little, if any, time to react and may have no unoccupied lane to swerve into. This is how a wrong way crash occurs.
No, this was not some kind of horror movie. It happens here a lot, far too often. Texas leads the U.S. in the number of these wrong way crashes.
Yesterday morning, for example, a man driving a Honda led Springtown police on a high speed chase across Tarrant County. It started when the driver fled a police officer near Lake Worth. He accelerated and drove east in the westbound lanes of Interstate Loop 820. He wove in and out of traffic dodging oncoming vehicles at a speed of up to 100 mph. Officers from Fort Worth and Reno joined the chase and used road spikes to prevent the driver from going further. The driver spun out of control as he exited 820 and crashed his car. Miraculously, no other cars were hit during the chase or his wipe out.
The police didn’t say, but based on my experience as a personal injury lawyer these last 38 years, you can assume the driver was either
(1) drunk or
I hope this was not the case, but what else would explain his potentially homicidal and suicidal behavior? We know the driver was not simply confused, although my firm settled a case yesterday for the full insurance policy limit available of $100,000 when a man couldn’t figure out which way to turn at an intersection under construction and crashed into our client at night in Arlington.
How did the Fort Worth driver get onto an interstate and drive the wrong direction, let alone continue driving for so long with vehicles headed at him? The fact that the chase happened after midnight, when so many DWIs and DUIs occur, is further evidence he must have been driving while intoxicated.
If you think this is jumping to a conclusion, a study by the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that 61 percent of wrong-way drivers were DWI — and the majority had a blood alcohol content of more than two times the state’s usual limit of .08%.
Last month a woman driving the wrong way in Fort Worth on Interstate 30 killed another driver and died in the wreck.
We need to crack down on driving while intoxicated/under the influence. While we’re at it, we need to do a better job enforcing the “dram shop act” which prohibits bars, restaurants, and alcohol sellers from over serving their customers. The recent huge verdict against the Dallas night club that got a former Dallas Cowboy so drunk that he drove his car at a speed of 130 mph. He hit a curb and flipped his car and took the life of his teammate and best friend, another reminder of this problem.
Texas has taken steps to reduce these wrong way crashes, which have helped. The Department of Transportation has installed high-tech solutions, including these new signs that have been lowered to eye level and which have reflective tape.
In addition, engineers have devised automatic sensors which are coupled to sensors and communication devices which enable law enforcement to react immediately when a driver enters the highway ramp going the wrong way.
Although wrong way collisions only represent three percent of highway wrecks, they are usually high speed and can result in catastrophic injuries or deaths. It has been shown that the fatality rate is 27 times higher in these collisions than in other car accidents. That is why this is such an urgent topic.
My personal injury law firm is unique in that it only handles car, truck, and 18-wheeler crashes (with an occasional motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian collision). We fight to help our clients recover the damages they are entitled to receive. I am constantly advocating for stricter DWI laws and better enforcement of our traffic safety rules and suing people who crash into innocent motorists. If you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision, contact us by calling 1-888-801-8585 or click here.
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