A wrong-way crash in Nevada recently caused a fatality. A 34-year-old driver was traveling southbound on I-580 in the northbound lanes. The motorist reportedly struck an Expedition, killing the passenger in the Expedition. The driver of the Expedition was transported to the hospital with critical injuries. The initial wrong-way head-on crash resulted in a chain reaction accident, with other motorists sustaining injuries as well. Do not enter sign

KOLO TV reports the driver who was traveling in the wrong direction on the highway did not have a valid driving license, and had a long history of black marks on his license, as well as a past conviction for reckless driving. Police suspect alcohol or drugs may have been a contributing factor.

The driver who allegedly caused this wrong-way car accident fits the profile perfectly of the type of driver who frequently causes collisions by going in the opposite direction of traffic on a highway or divided road. Understanding the causes of wrong-way crashes such as this tragic accident is very important in order to determine who is at the greatest risk and what steps can be taken to reduce the chance of further collisions occurring.

Understanding the Causes of Wrong-Way Accidents

Like the deadly wrong-way crash which occurred recently, most wrong-way accidents happen at night. National Transportation Safety Board reports a total of 78 percent of collisions with drivers going the wrong way happen between the hours of 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM.

Many of the crashes involve drivers who, like the one going the wrong way in the recent crash, do not have valid licenses at the time of the accident. Approximately 19 percent of drivers who cause collisions by going the wrong way had no valid driver’s license when they caused the accident to occur.

Many also involve drivers who are drunk at the time of the accident and who have a history of drunk driving. The wrong-way driver is over the legal alcohol limit in 60 percent of total wrong-way crashes crashes and in 65 percent of wrong-way crashes involving drivers age 20-39.

Further, approximately nine percent of the wrong way drivers had a previous conviction for an impaired driving offense within three years of the time they caused the wrong-way accident. This is around three times the number of DUI convictions for drivers in other crash types.

These statistics clearly show alcohol is a leading cause of wrong-way accidents. However, alcohol is not the only cause of wrong-way accidents. Wrong-way collision risks increase dramatically as drivers get older. When breaking down demographic groups of wrong-way drivers into groups of people within 10 years of age, there is a decline in wrong-way crashes as drivers get older… up until age 70.

Once a driver is aged 70- 79, the driver is 2.5 times as likely as drivers aged 60-69 to get into a wrong-way accident. When a driver is 80 or older, the driver is 30 times as likely to get into a wrong way accident. Senior drivers are generally not drunk when involved in a wrong-way crash, but may simply become disoriented or confused.