During 2022, Utah residents saw many headlines announcing wrong-way driving accidents, including those that caused fatalities. According to law enforcement officials, these crashes occur throughout the state and don’t have a common denominator as far as specific locations. Most happen when drivers are under the influence during nighttime hours.
Two things are certain: Wrong-way collisions often cause catastrophic injuries and vehicle damage, and Siegfried & Jensen can help.
Are All Wrong-Way Accidents Head-On Collisions?
Most wrong-way crashes are head-on collisions. These are so dangerous because the two (or more) vehicles involved are probably traveling at high speeds. Impact forces are doubled, so even at 30 mph, it’s like hitting a stationary object at 60 mph.
When the cars collide, they’ll likely enter other traffic lanes, which can bring more cars into the crash. When other drivers notice cars going the wrong way, they usually try to change course and reduce speed. Unfortunately, wrong-way drivers often cause a chain reaction that develops into a multiple-vehicle accident.
Wrong-way accidents may also include:
Cyclists and pedestrians have little or no protection if a fast-moving car hits them. Resulting injuries are usually extremely serious or fatal.
What Can Cause Wrong-Way Accidents?
Several situations can cause wrong-way accidents, most of which are due to driver error or negligence.
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
Driving while drunk or on drugs is illegal. Some prescription medications are mind-altering and have warning labels attached that warn you against driving or operating heavy machinery while taking them. Drugs and alcohol can adversely influence your body, making driving unsafe:
- Blurred vision
- Impaired judgment
- Delayed reaction times
- Slow reflexes
- Difficulty concentrating
- Erratic movements
Any of these conditions increase the likelihood of that driver traveling in the wrong direction, and driving under the influence causes all of them simultaneously. It’s no wonder that impaired driving causes so many car crashes.
Fatigue can cause many of the same impairments as drugs or alcohol. To make that worse, fatigued drivers often travel after dark. Drowsy drivers risk falling asleep while driving.
Many conditions make seeing clearly a challenge:
- Heavy snow or rain
- Burned-out headlights
- Glare from the sun
- Poor eyesight
- Low-lying fog
- No streetlights
- Obstacles on or beside the road
Even careful drivers can mistakenly drive in the wrong direction if they can’t see signs and lane markings. Unfortunately, these unintentional mistakes often cause collisions that injure people.
Driving in Unfamiliar Locations
Drivers are often tentative in unfamiliar locations. At times, conditions in familiar places might suddenly change. You might find yourself driving in the wrong direction if:
- Signs are missing or hard to see or read.
- Markings on the road are faded.
- A city has one-way streets.
- Construction zone lane patterns change.
- Your GPS isn’t up-to-date or has incorrect information.
These things can understandably create confusion, but drivers need to be alert.
Many streets and roads have only one lane in each direction. Lane dividers have solid or dotted lines to indicate which lane has the right-of-way for drivers who need to pass other vehicles. While it’s sometimes necessary, passing brings cars into the lane cars used to travel in the opposite direction. Drivers should:
- Check for oncoming traffic even if you have the right to pass on a specific stretch of road.
- Not pull into another lane immediately before a hill that you can’t see over.
- Obey signs instructing them not to pass on bridges, in tunnels, and in other restricted zones.
- Get back into the correct lane as soon as possible after passing.
You might also need to maneuver around obstacles on the road. Regardless of why you deliberately head into the wrong lane, you should always use extreme caution.
Driving safely requires keeping your hands on your steering wheel and your attention on the road. Anything that causes you to do otherwise is a distraction, and distractions can cause you to drift into oncoming traffic or turn the wrong way onto a street. Examples of distracted driving include:
- Talking to or looking at your passengers
- Using a cell phone or other device
- Looking for objects in your vehicle
- Smoking, eating, and drinking
- Putting on makeup or fixing your hair
When drivers look in a particular direction, they tend to turn their steering wheels in that same direction. If you’re looking at something to your left, your car will likely begin to drift into another traffic lane. Paying strict attention to where you’re heading is crucial because doing otherwise may cause an accident.
What Is Negligence?
All licensed drivers owe a duty of care to those sharing the roads. This duty is to drive safely to reduce the risk of harming themselves or others. Negligence is not acting with reasonable care and is the basis for most personal injury cases. Most people realize that driving while taking mind-altering drugs, for instance, isn’t safe. If they choose to do it anyway, they’re guilty of negligence.
It’s often helpful to use examples to explain how to prove legal negligence. Suppose that Andi is our driver. You must show that:
- Andi owes you a duty of care (driving safely)
- Andi failed to provide that duty of care (she drove in the wrong direction)
- Andi caused an accident due to breaching her duty of care
- You sustained injuries or other damages in the accident that Andi caused
Your Siegfried & Jensen attorney will investigate your accident and gather evidence proving that Andi was negligent.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
Car accident claims in Utah can become complex, and the average person probably doesn’t know how to overcome some of the challenges. If you’re injured because of a wrong-way accident, you need to focus on recovering rather than the many details of your insurance claim.
When you hire Siegfried & Jensen, we will:
- Advise you, providing vital information and explaining your legal options
- Submit accident-related paperwork
- Speak to insurance companies on your behalf
- Investigate your accident to gather evidence and assign fault correctly
- Aggressively negotiate with insurance companies to obtain maximum compensation for your damages
- File a civil lawsuit if necessary
Qualifying survivors of those who lose their lives in wrong-way collisions may be able to file a wrongful death suit. Siegfried & Jensen can assist with these cases also.
Although we are a large law firm, your Siegfried & Jensen legal team will give you the personal attention you deserve. We’ll answer your questions promptly and update you about your claim status. We understand that a wrong-way accident causes tremendous stress, and we strive to give you peace of mind.
Why Should You Select Siegfried & Jensen?
When you hire an attorney, you expect positive results. Siegfried & Jensen has won more than $1.2 billion for our satisfied clients since 1990. We focus on personal injury law, including wrong-way accidents, so we’re intimately familiar with the applicable laws, insurance company strategies, and procedures. We’ll take care of things so you don’t have to.
Get started by requesting a free, no-obligation case evaluation. If you choose to hire Siegfried & Jensen, you won’t owe us unless we win compensation for you. You can reach us by calling (801) 845-9000 or submitting our contact request form. We promise: You’ll be glad you contacted us.