There are several reasons why someone would drive the wrong way on a divided highway or one-way street. Such incidents can happen when a driver is confused by traffic signs – or the lack of them. Wrong-way crashes can be caused by an elderly or an inexperienced driver. According to safety experts and Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey, the biggest culprit of wrong-way driving in the state is due to impairment by alcohol, drugs or both. Studies have indicated that in wrong way crashes with fatalities, two-thirds are due to driver impairment. 40 of those at fault in a fatal wrong-way crash have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of twice or higher the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
In the wake of a wrong-way crash on Interstate 10 which left four people dead on March 27th, 2018 The Parker Pioneer reported a story. On the one year anniversary of that day, Governor Ducey signed into law HB, 2243, making wrong-way driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol a felony. Ducey indicated that the problem in Arizona had reached alarming levels. He warned potential wrong-way drivers who might be tempted to get behind the wheel while intoxicated:
“Your actions are beyond foolish- they are lethal, and we will not tolerate it.”
The fatal crash in March of last year was the third fatal wrong-way driving incident in 2018. The Arizona DOT has been installing many more signs and wrong-way detecting systems. However, signs and engineering measures won’t completely solve this situation. Public awareness is crucial in helping to reduce the number of wrong-way accidents due to impairment.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety’s “Drive Aware Get There” has a public awareness campaign. In it, the agency suggests that in addition to being awake and aware, when encountering a wrong-way driver, they should:
- Slow down
- Safely steer away from the wrong way driver
- Get off the roadway
- Call 911
Some Arizona highways have been equipped with signs which can warn motorists of a wrong-way driver. Whenever a driver sees such a sign warning of a wrong-way driver, they are encouraged to get off at the road at the nearest exit.