Often the chain of events begins with drivers entering an exit ramp in the wrong direction, making a U-turn on the mainline of a highway or using an emergency turnaround through a median, investigators said.
Most wrong-way crashes — including seven of the nine accidents directly investigated by NTSB — take place in the fast lane of the highway, investigators said. The accidents also tend to happen at night and on weekends, the study found.
Reducing drunken driving is perhaps the most obvious way to reduce wrong-way driving fatalities and injuries. The board hosted a forum earlier this year on the problem of drivers impaired by alcohol and drugs.
Alcohol-impaired crashes overall accounted for nearly 31 percent motor vehicle fatalities 2010. And, that percentage has remained stuck between 30 and 32 percent of overall highway fatalities since 1995, board members said.
Safety advocates have been lobbying states to pass more laws requiring ignition interlock devices for first-time offenders. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, states that already have such laws on the books are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Washington. Missouri's law does take effect until next fall. Also, four California counties — including Los Angeles — have ignition interlock laws.
"The laws may vary some, but the common thread is that they are for all first time offenders," Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of the association, said.
National Transportation Safety Board http://www.ntsb.gov
Follow Joan Lowy at http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.