Georgia Has One of the Highest Death Rates from Wrong-Way Traffic Accidents

Wrong-way collisions are one of the deadliest and, arguably, most avoidable types of traffic accidents. After all, out of all the skills that drivers exercise on a daily basis, staying on the correct side of the road hardly seems like the most taxing.

Even so, Georgia loses hundreds of lives to this phenomenon every year.

If you’ve been affected by one of these crashes and survived, odds are high that you’ve suffered significant losses and maybe even life-altering injuries. And to have a chance at getting the full compensation you’re owed for those losses, you’re going to need a lawyer.

This Problem Goes Back Years, and It’s Only Getting Worse

A study by the American Automobile Association (AAA), examining the years 2015-2018, found that Georgia had the fifth most deaths from wrong-way accidents, after Texas, Florida, California, and Missouri.

It should be noted that those numbers are not adjusted for population, and of those top five states, only Missouri has a lower population than Georgia. Texas, Florida, and California all have two to three times as many residents.

That same study also found that the rate of wrong-way accidents all around the country had gone up by 33% compared with the previous four years.

Since that time, Georgia traffic accidents of all kinds have continued to increase in frequency, more or less steadily, even during periods of decreased commuter traffic in 2020. Wrong-way crashes in Georgia have nearly doubled since 2013, and deaths from wrong-way crashes have nearly tripled.

Experts are struggling to come up with effective, actionable ways to reduce the problem as a whole. One representative for the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has said there are no identifiable hot zones within Georgia’s infrastructure that seem to be especially prone to this kind of accident. Rather, the individual wrong-way crashes seem, time and again, to stem from driver behavior.

What Causes Wrong-Way Traffic Accidents in Georgia?

Most wrong-way accidents can be traced to a small handful of causes.

  • Alcohol. Drunk driving is the single most common factor in wrong-way accidents. About 60% of the cases compiled in that AAA study involved a driver with an illegally high blood alcohol content.
  • Other drugs. There are many controlled substances that can impair driving just as severely as alcohol. Some are illegal recreational drugs. Others are common prescription and even over-the-counter medications. Some drugs and drug combinations affect different individuals in unpredictable ways, which is why it’s so important to get acquainted with any new drug before trying to drive or operate heavy machinery.
  • Confusion due to medical conditions. Wrong-way drivers who are not under the influence of any substance are often in an altered mental state due to an underlying medical condition. This is particularly common among older drivers. Cognitive decline in older adults often manifests in sporadic episodes of confusion, so it’s sadly possible for someone to make this kind of catastrophic driving error even if they’re lucid and sharp the majority of the time.
  • Distraction. Cell phone use, rubbernecking, joking or arguing with passengers, and anything else that takes a driver’s eyes and attention off the road ahead can result in an accident. Usually, the distracted driver simply fails to react quickly enough to something, such as a light change, a car slamming on its brakes, or a pedestrian stepping into the road. However, wrong-way accidents can arise from driver distraction too, especially on divider-free roadways where it’s possible to drift into oncoming traffic.
  • Fatigue. In severe enough cases, fatigue can be as debilitating as alcohol. As much as possible, drivers need to plan ahead to get enough sleep, seek treatment for insomnia and other sleep-related conditions, and be willing to make safety-conscious judgment calls on when not to drive at all. Employers also need to be conscious of this issue, especially if their employees drive as part of work.

Obviously, preventing wrong-way accidents in Georgia is a lot more complicated that improving signage or even redesigning roads. The causes run deep into people’s choices and options for managing their lives, their work, their downtime, and their health.

Still, the bottom line is that no one deserves to fall victim to one of these pointless and devastating crashes.

Wrong-Way Accidents Carry a High Likelihood of Death and Serious Injury

When two vehicles strike each other head-on, their opposing momentum imparts an enormous amount of force to the collision. The drivers of the two cars, and any front seat passengers, are positioned very close to the epicenter of that destructive force. Most of what lies between each human being and the point of impact is a vehicle’s engine block, which leaves limited room for crumple zones.

All of these factors contribute to making wrong-way collisions one of the deadliest possible types of traffic wrecks.

The individual cases tragically demonstrate these realities of physics over and over again.

In the last year alone, there have been three publicized wrong-way accidents in Georgia along the I-20, one on the I-75, one on the I-95, one on Castleberry Bridge Road near Auraria, one on U.S Highway 27 in Carroll County, and one on U.S Highway 441 in Putnam County.

Every single one of them resulted in at least one death.

All of the surviving drivers involved in the collisions were seriously injured, except for those driving tractor-trailers. Some of the wrong-way drivers even managed to strike multiple other vehicles before coming to a stop, injuring yet more people.

The Highway 441 accident killed five people, two of them small children. The Putnam County Sheriff called it the worst crash the county had seen since the 1990s.

If You’ve Been Harmed by a Wrong-Way Crash in Georgia, the Stoddard Firm Can Help

A car crash can be a severely traumatic experience, both physically and mentally. And, unfortunately, the crash itself is only the first part of the ordeal you’ll face as a survivor.

After the injuries have been stabilized and the wrecks hauled away, that’s when the battle over the bill starts.

In theory, the at-fault driver’s insurance company should cover all of the victims’ damages, including medical expenses, property destruction, lost quality of life, and if applicable, the wrongful death of family members.

That’s exactly the service auto insurance companies sell, what their monthly premiums are supposed to pay for: coverage for a driver’s liability.

The trouble is, insurance is a for-profit business, and as far as these companies are concerned, their first priority is to make money. That means denying claims under any possible pretense, and offering as little as possible to close each unavoidable claim.

Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer, like those at the Stoddard Firm, can help you force insurance companies to take your claim seriously. We’ll advocate for you and take the matter to court if necessary. We may also be able to help you identify additional sources of coverage you didn’t know existed.

To get started discussing your case with a lawyer, reach out any time by phone or chat.

Attorney Matt Stoddard

Atlanta Personal Injury LawyerMatt Stoddard is a professional, hardworking, ethical advocate. He routinely faces some of the nation’s largest companies and some of the world’s largest insurers – opponents who have virtually unlimited resources. In these circumstances, Mr. Stoddard is comfortable. Mr. Stoddard provides his strongest efforts to his clients, and he devotes the firm’s significant financial resources to presenting the strongest case possible on their behalf. Matt understands that his clients must put their trust in him. That trust creates an obligation for Matt to work tirelessly on their behalf, and Matt Stoddard does not take that obligation lightly. [ Attorney Bio ]

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