Preventing wrong-way crashes begins with vigilance, experts say

Alcohol leading factor in wrong-way crashes

SAN ANTONIO – Multiple people reported a wrong-way driver on Interstate 35 in downtown San Antonio over the Labor Day weekend, which was one of several incidents of the dangerous behavior. While there were no reports of injuries caused by this driver, often that isn’t the case. A wrong-way collision on Loop 410 last month left one driver injured and the wrong-way driver dead.

“Almost always the wrong-way crashes are fatal because they are typically head-on collisions that seemingly come out of nowhere,” said Doug Shupe, a AAA Texas spokesperson. “The vast majority of them are happening because someone makes the wrong decision: the dangerous decision to get behind the wheel after they have been drinking alcohol.”

Shupe said other common causes of these crashes are older age drivers and people who are driving alone.

“They don’t have someone in the vehicle who can alert them, ‘Hey, you’ve made the wrong decision, you’ve gone the wrong way, you’re entering the highway at the wrong way,’” he said.

According to the San Antonio Police Department, wrong-way drivers don’t often know they are in the wrong lane, and think they are in the fast lane. Experts advise staying in the middle or far right lane to avoid wrong-way drivers. Also, drivers should honk their horn or flash your lights to get the wrong-way driver’s attention. Drivers should also call law enforcement as soon as it’s safe.

As for preventing the crashes, drivers should stay alert and pay attention to signage. Also, don’t drink and drive.

“We want people to know that this is a persistent problem and it’s a growing problem, but there are steps that can be taken to prevent these types of tragedies,” Shupe said.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that Texas led the nation between 2015 and 2018 in fatalities as a result of wrong way crashes.

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About the Author:

Samuel King anchors traffic during GMSA and reports on transportation and mobility issues across the San Antonio region. He joined the KSAT 12 news team in 2020 from KUT in Austin. Samuel was born in Queens, spent time growing up in South Alabama and graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.