New research by the National Transportation Safety Board confirms what every Indiana personal injury lawyer already knows – intoxicated or drunk drivers are the number one cause of wrong way driving accidents across the country. The Board is using the results of the study to promote a recommendation that all 50 states enact laws requiring mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices in all vehicles of DUI offenders, including persons convicted for the very first time.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board study, intoxicated drivers were linked to as many as 69% of all wrong way driving accidents. The study was based on 1,566 accidents that occurred between 2004 and 2009. The National Transportation Safety Board also analyzed at least nine wrong way-driving accidents that it investigated.
The Board found that in about 59% of these accidents, the wrong way drivers were driving with alcohol levels that were more than twice the legal limit of .08%. In 10% of the accidents, the drivers were driving with a blood alcohol level that was between .08% and .14%.
The Board has also stated that over the past week alone, there have been at least 11 fatalities caused in wrong way driving accidents in 8 states. Earlier in 2012, a study conducted in Michigan found that approximately 22% of all wrong way-driving related accidents ended in fatalities. The overall fatality rate in accidents during the same period of time was .3%.
Wrong way driving accidents are so deadly because they involve a driver who is driving in the opposite direction and towards oncoming traffic. Often, by the time motorists realize that there is a driver headed directly toward for them, it is too late to avoid the accident. In most of these cases, the driver is so intoxicated that he or she doesn’t even realize that is the wrong lane.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board study, 7 out of the 9 wrong way driving-related accidents that were investigated by the Board occurred in the fast lane of the highway.
The National Transportation Safety Board is recommending that all states enact laws that require installation of ignition interlock devices in all vehicles of DUI offenders. Many states already have laws that require installation of these devices in vehicles of second or third time offenders, but the Board wants even first time offenders to be covered under these laws. As expected, the Board’s proposal is strongly opposed by the beverage industry represented by the American Beverage Association, which wants these laws restricted only to serious offenders, or persons with multiple driving offenses on their record.
The Indiana personal injury lawyers at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson Kennedy LLP represent persons injured in automobile accidents across Indiana. If you have been injured in an alcohol-related car accident, speak with an attorney at our firm to learn your rights.