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Defective Highway Design a Factor in Wrong Way Deaths

In late October five individuals were tragically killed when a wrong-way driver crashed head-on into another vehicle on Interstate 495 in Middleborough, Massachusetts. While the affected communities continue to mourn the tragic loss of life, alterations in signage and design changes to highway ramps could reduce the likelihood of future occurrences.

Federal highway safety statistics reveal approximately 360 deaths related to wrong-way driving instances each year. While driver impairment is a major factor in such instances, confusing highway interchanges also play a major role in wrong way deaths. According to recent guidelines, an increase in visible “Do Not Enter” and “Wrong Way” signage at on-ramps could significantly reduce wrong-way deaths. Multiple cautionary signs as drivers proceed up the ramp could reinforce the danger or alert drivers of the danger who missed the first set of signage.

Others states have implemented higher tech solutions. Rhode Island has implemented a warning light system at two dozen “high risk” highway interchanges. The state has not recorded any wrong-way driving deaths since the installation of the system. Further, Texas has implemented a sensor system which alerts local police of wrong way drivers. Civil engineers have also suggested the installation of medians at crossroads in high risk interchanges, decreasing the possibility of turns onto the wrong ramp.

State and federal officials should explore all options that would reduce the frequency of these tragedies. If you have been injured because of the negligence of another, do not hesitate to contact one of the experienced attorneys at Swartz & Lynch LLP.

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