I just posted a news article about a young marine who was killed in a tragic car accident caused by a wrong-way driver. Lance Corporal Gregory M. Suedmeyer had survived a tour in Iraq only to die in a car crash on his way home. The other driver, 71-year-old Brice Joseph Quayle of Villa Rica was driving on the wrong side of Interstate 20. The accident is under investigation, but Cobb County police expect that charges will be filed against Quayle.
This is the fourth fatal wrong-way accident in the metro Atlanta area since November. Wrong-way crashes are especially deadly. Fifty percent of wrong-way crashes result in fatalities or incapacitating injuries. This means they are far more likely to cause death and serious injury than most other types of freeway crashes.
The Georgia Department of Transportation says that about 22 people have died in wrong-way crashes in the Atlanta metropolitan area since 2004. A study conducted by the Department of Transportation looked into the reasons that wrong-way crashes occur. The study found that most wrong-way drivers are driving while impaired. They were either under the influence of alcohol or drugs or they had forgotten to take necessary prescription medications. In a few cases, the driver was trying to commit suicide. Very few drivers were just confused.
A Texas study examined wrong-way accidents in 29 states. The study found that most wrong-way drivers enter the interstate through an exit ramp. In Georgia, the exits ramps off interstates are well-marked. A driver getting on the interstate through an exit ramp would see numerous “do not enter” and “wrong way” signs as well as raised pavement. The Department of Transportation has considered adding spikes that depress when drivers are going the right way; however, these spikes are designed for low speeds and may get stuck. In addition, they may hamper emergency vehicles which must be able to use exit ramps in both directions.
According to the Texas study, about 61% of the drivers involved in wrong-way crashes are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and in Texas, the greatest percentage of these accidents occurred between 2:00 and 2:59 am. This is the hour that most bars in Texas close.