Austin has seen a spate of wrong-way crashes over the last few months, moving Texas up to the top of the list of states leading the way in the statistics for such collisions. The cause is baffling the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), and they are in the middle of conducting two research projects with the goal of decreasing the number of deaths.
According to TxDOT, there were 185 wrong-way crashes in San Antonio in 2011, and seven fatal accidents. Eighty percent of wrong-way accidents were between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and 72 percent of wrong-way driving incidents happened after sunset.
Wrong-way driver reports take a drastic hike just after 2 a.m., which coincides with the closing of the bars. In fact, statistics from the Highway Special Investigation Report (2004, 2009) indicated 59 percent of the drivers in fatal wrong-way crashes had a blood alcohol content (BAC) equal to or above 0.15.
One of the newest projects is taking place in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The second is located in San Antonio. The San Antonio project saw the installation of sensors to detect wrong-way drivers that activate flashing wrong way signs over the highway. While this may be somewhat effective, if the driver is too drunk to figure out they are going the wrong way in the first place, would they even see and register the signs?
There have been other suggestions to stop wrong-way drivers, including spike strips to exit ramps, but the vehicle would have to be moving at a very low speed; adding flashing LED lights to increase sign visibility, increasing the size of the signs and using reflective tape to highlight them.
The sure-fire solution to drinking and driving the wrong way is to not drink. That may not happen when the drinker has free will and makes the choice to drink and drive while under the influence.