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Study: Wrong-way crashes on the rise across US

CHICAGO – This spring has seen a rise in wrong way driving incidents, resulting in numerous injuries and deaths. The trend reflects an overall increase over the last several years, according to AAA.

In March of 2021, Chicago’s Eisenhower Expressway experienced two such incidents within thirty minutes of each other. According to an ABC7 report, a total of five people were killed and multiple people were injured in the crashes, which occurred around 1:15 a.m.

The first incident, in Forest Park, involved a fiery head-on crash. Good Samaritans tried to quickly come to their aid, but both drivers were pronounced dead at the scene. The second crash occurred in Chicago. A Land Rover collided with a Ford Edge, which hit another car. Two cars were engulfed in flames. The drivers, again, were pronounced dead at the scene. Two passengers were taken to Stroger Hospital for their injuries.


Recently, incidents around the country have popped up as well – including Oklahoma, Cleveland, Utah, Florida, and other states. Reasons vary in each situation, but drunk driving and drug usage, or impaired driving, are common causes.

In a AAA study of wrong way traffic accidents, approximately 500 fatalities occurred each year between 2015 and 2018, a 34% increase over the previous five years. The study concludes three common causes: alcohol impairment, older age, and driving without a passenger.

Though alcohol impairment is the leading cause, drivers with the intent to injure, evade police, or break laws are increasing due to mental and physical health factors. The Utah incident, for example, cites the driver was under the influence of meth and purposefully entered the other side of traffic with the intent to injure.

The National Transportation Safety board, which partners with the AAA, is on high alert.

“We need to redouble our efforts to address this safety hazard,” Dr. Rob Molloy of National Transportation Safety board said in a news release. “We know that interventions like ignition interlock devices for all offenders and high-visibility enforcement operations will reduce these types of devastating crashes.”


Wrong-way drivers can cause catastrophic injuries or even death. If you believe you or your loved one was injured because of the negligence of a wrong-way driver on an Illinois highway, Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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