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Could Simple Safety Changes Put An End to Wrong-Way Crashes?

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Farren Washington3 years ago

Despite years of detailed recommendations to prevent wrong-way crashes, the Texas Department of Transportation has yet to implement many of those safety measures on North Texas roads. Meanwhile, other states and even local toll road operators have taken steps that appear to be reducing the number of wrong-way incidents.

Collected data from the Texas Department of Transportation, shows that wrong-way accidents increased 13 percent in the last year. Other states have managed to reduce the number of those collisions with an easy fix: lowering warning signs on highway ramps.

Examples of Past Wrong-Way Traffic Crashes

According to NBC News, 18-year-old Sabrina Fernandez and her unborn child were struck by a Dodge Intrepid traveling east on the westbound lanes of Interstate 30 in Fort Worth, TX.

The National Transportation Safety Board stated that at least 80 percent of wrong-way crashes involve alcohol. The intoxicated driver inadvertently charges past a warning sign and is suddenly smack dab in the middle of oncoming traffic.

 That's what happened five years ago when a mother intoxicated by booze and pot recklessly killed eight people on New York's Taconic Parkway. The intoxicated woman, her daughter and three nieces were also among the casualties.

Alcohol was also a factor in a 2011 crash on Interstate 20 in Arlington, Texas. Resident St. Clair Williams was sideswiped by a drunk driver. The other car then collided into a semi. The National Transportation Safety Board studied his accident as part of a nationwide report on wrong-way drivers.

Possible Solutions to Avoid Future Wrong-Way Traffic Crashes

Federal researchers and other experts came to the conclusion that changes to freeway ramps could alert offending drivers they were about to make a potentially fatal mistake. Those changes include: better pavement markings, red reflectors and lower “Wrong Way” and “Do Not Enter” signs. 

Lower-mounted signs are more visible at night, when the majority of wrong-way crashes happen. The signs cost a reasonable $200 to $300 per ramp.

Texas leads the nation is wrong-way crashes, and yet the Texas DOT wants more research on the height of the signs, even though three-foot warnings were approved by feds six years ago. The state believes two-foot signs might be safer if a driver crashes into one.

Texas is currently testing a wide range of wrong-way countermeasures in San Antonio, including flashing signs and radar, but other metropolitan areas in the state have only standard signs and pavement markings.

The agency feels that there is not enough conclusive data to suggest that wrong-way driving signs should be lowered. They also added that safety is their top priority, and will always take new methods/changes into consideration


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