The North Carolina Highway Patrol is investigating a fatal wrong-way crash that occurred on Interstate 485 over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. Highway Patrol troopers said the wrong-way driver hit two other vehicles before slamming head-on into a Honda sedan. The wrong-way driver and the driver of the Honda sedan died in the wreck. Troopers believe the wrong-way driver may have been impaired. This is the third death caused by a wrong-way driver on I-485 since the Thanksgiving holiday.
Wrong-way crashes caused 145 fatalities and 643 injuries on North Carolina roads between 2000 and 2016. Data published by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) show that 69 percent of fatal wrong-way crashes involve alcohol impairment. Officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) have also said that many wrong-way crashes are caused by impaired drivers.
Could this Program Prevent North Carolina Wrong-Way Crashes?
NCDOT’s Turnpike Authority is rolling out a pilot program on parts of the Triangle Expressway this year to prevent wrong-way motor vehicle accidents. There are currently wrong-way signs and sensors on the Triangle Expressway. The Turnpike Authority’s pilot program will upgrade the existing infrastructure and reduce the amount of time it takes for authorities to locate wrong-way drivers.
With the current system, Triangle Expressway operators in the control room receive email notifications when drivers enter the wrong side of the freeway. Operators then use cameras to confirm whether the sensors have picked up a wrong-way driver. Once the driver is located, operators can notify Highway Patrol troopers.
The new system uses enhanced “wrong-way” and “do not enter” signs that illuminate when drivers enter the wrong side of the freeway. Control room operators would receive email alerts, pop-ups and videos of the drivers on their screens to reduce the amount of time it takes to alert the authorities. The new system could also prevent false alarms. The Turnpike Authority will test this new program in several places along the Triangle Expressway within the coming months.
Riddle & Brantley, LLP is a North Carolina personal injury law firm with extensive experience handling car accident cases. If you or a loved one were harmed in an auto accident, then you could speak to one of our attorneys at no cost.
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