Wrong-side driver collisions and how to avoid them.

As the video confirms, road traffic collisions involving wrong-way drivers are much more prevalent than you’d expect. In this video report, the expert gives some advice, but we think the advice might fall short. See my tips below.

The original article appears at www.8newsnow.com/news/local-news/defensive-driving-expert-shares-tips-to-avoid-wrong-way-drivers/

The expert referred to is Drivers Edge Founder & CEO Jeff Payne, who said of preparing for the worst. “It really doesn’t matter how good of a driver you think you are; it all comes down to how bad of a driver we know everyone else is.” Payne also told 8 News Now that anyone who sees a wrong-way driver coming toward them from a distance should pull off the road immediately. If that isn’t possible, Payne said a driver can also swerve to the side and avoid being hit head-on. “Jerk the wheel to the left or right, try to create an angle,” he explained. “So, it’s not a head-on collision.” However, no matter what happens, he said it’s imperative to not panic and instead make a decision that could have the power to save lives. “Don’t freeze up,” Payne added. “Try to protect yourself as best you can.”

Payne also told 8 News Now a lot of wrong-way crashes happen in the left lane of a highway or interstate, as an impaired driver might think he is driving in the slow lane of the opposite direction. He said anyone who’s looking for further protection should avoid the left lane when possible.

Here’s my take on this.

A wrong-way driver situation can happen because of a number of reasons, which may include:

  1. The driver making a wrong turn, because they are lost, ending up on the wrong road.
  2. An intoxicated or impaired driver, not capable of detecting their error.
  3. A foreign driver acting on instinct and thus turning the wrong way or joining a road into the incorrect lane.
  4. Intentional action – such as suicide.

Since 22 wrong-way reports have been received in Las Vegas this year alone and since this is a very popular international tourist destination, I would have wanted to know where those wrong-way drivers were from. If they come from a country where drivers drive on the other side of the road, this could be a vital component in the analysis and avoidance of this danger.

If, however, more than a statistically irrelevant number of wrong-way drivers come from a specific country or region, this might reflect on the quality of driver training or driving culture, there.

Here is my take on what you could do when faced with a wrong-way driver, in cases where you have time to react:

  1. Reduce speed immediately. The lower the speed, the lower the impact, the less serious the injuries are likely to be.
  2. Flash your headlights and turn on your hazard lights immediately. The driver might respond to your actions and also slow down or perhaps even realize their mistake and/or stop.
  3. Move to the slower lane or away from approaching traffic (where this applies) as far as you can – completely off the road if you have to.
  4. If you are too close to take early action, swerve to your side of the road, to expose the far-off side of your vehicle (to the Left in the USA).
  5. If you have passengers, swerving might expose them to greater forces, if contact is made at or near their door. In that case, the front of the vehicle is (typically) the best designed, with crumple zones, to absorb energy and the engine might also be there.
  6. Lean as far back as you can to avoid contact with the vehicle interior – such as the steering wheel or dashboard.
  7. If you have the time, try to remember to pull your seatbelt tighter, to cross your arms over your chest to create a thicker barrier for contact and to tilt your head downward to minimize head movement during an impact.

Other than this, there is very little you can do to reduce the impact. To avoid it, it would be best to:

  1. Drive slower at night, when you cannot see beyond your headlights or far at all.
  2. Always wear your seatbelts and ask your passengers to wear theirs.
  3. Wherever possible, move over into slower lanes (right in the USA, Left in South Africa); also to allow more time and lateral space for a reaction.
  4. Think ahead and watch other drivers very carefully. Expect the unexpected.
  5. Report ANY and ALL cases of wrong-side driving to authorities.

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