A mother and daughter from East Tennessee died in a crash on I-40 in North Carolina with a driver who was driving on the wrong side of the interstate.
Joyce R. Smallen, 72, and her daughter Ronda Hanson, 49, both from Loudon, North Carolina, were driving to Tennessee on I-40 early in the morning on October 17 when their car was hit head-on by an SUV going in the wrong direction. Both women died at the crash scene.
The driver of the Jeep, Steven William Safreed of Waynesville, NC, was seriously injured and was taken to a local hospital. It is not known why the SUV driver was driving the wrong way on the interstate. The North Carolina Department of Safety is still investigating the wrong-way crash.
It is one of the scariest sights one can see on a highway: a driver going in the wrong direction headed straight towards you. Wrong way crashes happen more often than you might think; the US Department of Transportation reports that approximately 350 people die in wrong-way crashes every year.
Given all of the signs and safety measures that are used to prevent drivers from going the wrong way on interstates, why does this continue to happen?
The NTSB recently completed a report that looked at data for wrong way accidents to find what the common trends were. Some of the important points the report noted about wrong-way crashes were:
- Most wrong-way drivers are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The NTSB estimated that at least 50% of these crashes are due to drivers under the influence. Most intoxicated drivers in wrong way crashes had a BAC of .15 or higher, which is double the legal limit in North Carolina.
- Many wrong way crashes happen on the weekend; this could be because more people are drinking and driving on these days and nights.
- Wrong way crashes are most likely to happen at night. A combination of drinking and driving, driver fatigue, and lack of visibility make it more likely that wrong way crashes will happen. The NTSB stated that 78% of all wrong way crashes happened from 6 PM to 6 AM.
- Most wrong-way accidents happen because a driver entered an exit ramp. This could be because of poor signage or the driver not knowing the area.
Our North Carolina personal injury attorneys want to implore that all drivers use caution when driving on our interstates. Be well rested and obviously, never drink and drive. Wrong-way crashes are almost always preventable. These terrible accidents lead to serious injury, death, and sometimes large wrongful death lawsuits, and we hope that more drivers will become aware of the dangers of wrong-way accidents.