Two Wrong-Way Accidents Claim Lives

On Friday, commuters on the Howard Frankland Bridge between Tampa and St. Petersburg encountered a tragic obstacle: a fatal collision caused by a wrong-way driver. The accident stalled traffic for nearly 3 hours, plus caused congestion on nearby roads as drivers searched for alternate routes. The driver of the wrong-way vehicle, a 46-year-old man from Pinellas Park, died at the scene of the crash.

This wasn’t the only wrong-way crash in Tampa Bay this weekend, either. Early Sunday morning, a similar accident led to another fatality on Tampa’s Selmon Expressway. A pickup driver was exhibiting reckless behavior, like failing to use headlights and running through red lights, before getting onto the Selmon Expressway. He ended up traveling in the wrong direction, then caused a head-on collision with another vehicle. The driver of the other vehicle, a 68-year-old grandfather known for his selfless volunteer work, was killed.

What are Wrong-Way Accidents?

In both of these fatal accidents, alcohol likely played a role. But while they raise awareness about  impaired driving, these two accidents also highlight the danger of wrong-way drivers.

Wrong-way driving accounts for only about 3% of all accidents. Though this number is small, wrong-way accidents are more likely to be fatal than other types of accidents. This is because wrong-way crashes are often head-on collisions, one of the most dangerous car crash categories. During a head-on collision, a car moving at 40 MPH will experience the impact of their car hitting a wall at around 80 MPH, due to the high speed of both vehicles. The impact to the front of the car can lead to traumatic injuries, like brain or spinal cord damage.

What Causes Wrong-Way Accidents?

Wrong-way accidents are frequently the result of drunk, distracted, or drowsy driving. When a driver is fully alert, they would notice if they accidentally started driving in the wrong lane, but if a driver is impaired, they might not realize their mistake. Similarly, impaired drivers might be more likely to make a serious mistake, like turning in the wrong direction.

However, wrong-way accidents sometimes happen when drivers are fully aware of their surroundings. For example, if a road sign has confusing wording, a driver might misread it and become turned around. Or if a driver is new to the area and doesn’t know the logistics of a certain road, they could not realize they are driving on the wrong side of the road. Situations like these are very rare, thanks to adequate signs and roadway safety infrastructure, but they can occur.

Who is Liable for a Wrong-Way Accident?

When a wrong-way accident occurs, it often fairly easy to determine who is at-fault. Since the wrong-way driver was going in the wrong direction, they are likely the one responsible for the accident. If the wrong-way driver was displaying reckless behavior, like texting behind the wheel, their chances of being responsible are even higher.

As these two accidents in Tampa Bay show us, wrong-way drivers can cause serious harm. While both accidents are tragic, they can hopefully be a reminder for everyone across Tampa Bay to always be responsible and alert behind the wheel.

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The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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