Fatal "Wrong Way" Collision in Southern Oregon Caused by Drunk Driver

Joe Di Bartolomeo
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Posted on Mar 30, 2014

A sad story out of Ashland.

A 911 dispatcher was coming home from work just after 3:00 a.m. when she was struck head-on by a drunk driver driving the wrong way on I 5 near Ashland.

Apparently, just prior to the collision, the drunk driver purchased gasoline. The gas attendant immediately contacted 911, but it was too late. About two minutes later, police were rushing to the collision scene.

The National Transportation Safety Board performed a special investigation back in 2012 on wrong way driving. Some of the key findings include the following:

  • Wrong-way collisions are relatively rare, but when they do happen, it’s usually fatal. This has not really changed in the past 2 years.
  • Driving while impaired by alcohol is the main cause for wrong-weigh collisions. 60% of the collisions are caused by drunk drivers.
  • Older drivers are overrepresented in wrong-way collisions.
  • The jury is still out on how much drug involvement contributes to wrong-way collisions.
  • Some signage warning drivers that they are driving the wrong way onto the freeway do not comply with federally recognized standards for highway signs. However, one must wonder whether any sign would help prevent a drunk driver from entering a freeway driving the wrong way.
  • When somebody enters the freeway driving the wrong way, there is quite a bit of risk involved in stopping this behavior.
  • Navigation system alerts informing a driver that they are driving the wrong way on a freeway may be helpful.

                Many times, the conclusions set out in investigative reports, and even medical studies, seem like a restatement of the obvious. However, since 2011, Oregon reports 77 cases involving wrong way driving.