A tragic accident occurred on I-75 South in the early morning hours of May 29, 2016, killing three, including a 7-year-old girl. Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is still trying to determine why a 32-year-old driver drove his 2008 Honda the wrong way, resulting in a head on collision that killed a College Park woman and her daughter.
The young mother, a 29-year-old of College Park, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Her daughter was transported to a Macon hospital where she later succumbed to her injuries and died. The driver, of Forsyth, was also pronounced dead at the scene.
Moments before the accident occurred, a call was received at the sheriff’s office tipping them off that there was a car on I-75 southbound traveling northbound - the wrong way. Officers were dispatched to the area but were unable to reach the car before the collision. Other motorists on the road at the same time who passed, and narrowly missed the accused reported that he was driving very fast. Speed was likely a significant factor in the intensity of the crash.
The call came in at around 2 a.m., informing the sheriff’s dispatch that a 2008 Honda Accord had entered I-75 southbound at Exit 187 and was traveling in a northbound direction. The accused crashed his Accord into the victims 2006 Nissan Murano at the 195-mile marker. He had driven eight treacherous miles in the wrong direction.
Wrong Way Accidents Are a Growing Problem
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) published a special investigative report on wrong way driving in December 2012. For the purposes of the report, wrong way driving is defined as “vehicular movement along a travel lane in a direction opposing the legal flow of traffic on high-speed divided highways or access ramps.” The report’s consideration of wrong way travel is restricted to such controlled-access highways, including entrance and exit ramps.”
Vehicles moving the wrong way due to median crossover encroachments are not included in the report.
Wrong way collisions are rather rare, making up for approximately 3 percent of highway accidents. However, they tend to be far more severe than other types of accidents on the highway, resulting in serious injuries and fatalities. A Virginia study found that wrong way collisions are 27 times more deadly than other types of collisions. An average of 260 wrong way collisions that end in a fatality occur each year, claiming more than 360 lives.
What To Do When You Are Facing a Wrong Way Driver
Avoiding a wrong way collision can be difficult, especially if it is dark or visibility is impaired, but there are some things you can do to minimize your risk.
- Pay attention– Keep your attention on the road, looking ahead for potential hazards. Most people only look about 200 feet in front of them when driving and that often does not give you enough time to avoid a collision and take action to prevent disaster.
- Stay to the right– When you find a wrong way driver in your path, move quickly to the right. Wrong way drivers will usually move directly to the fast lane (the right side of the highway) thinking it is actually the slow lane. By moving to the right you may be able to avoid an accident.
- Buckle up and keep safety first– Most wrong way collisions result in head on impacts or side swipes. Wearing a seat belt can be what keeps you alive and help you escape serious injury. If you witness a wrong way driver, as soon as you pass pull over and call 911 to report it (this is a strong argument to keep a cell phone with you).
- Use signals– The three primary reasons that people drive the wrong way on the highway are: they are under the influence of a substance that impairs – either legal or illicit, they are not an experienced driver, or they are not mentally alert – exhaustion and sleepiness are a very common cause. When you see a wrong way driver, signal them by flashing your lights or making some other type of signal if you have time.
- Check the road reflector color– Make sure you are going in the right direction by checking the reflectors on the road. Many reflectors on the road are dual colored. On the “right or correct” side, they are yellow or white. On the “wrong” side (meaning you are traveling in the wrong direction), they are red. So if you see red reflectors, pull over and turn around.