Just before 6 a.m. on Friday, March 19th, a cargo van driving the wrong way on Highway 288 in Houston caused a major collision involving at least four vehicles. The crash led to miles worth of backed-up traffic in the eastbound lanes of 610 South Loop.
Police report that a cargo van driving west in the eastbound lanes of Highway 288 caused a crash west of the interchange over Almeda Road.
At this time, the full extent of injuries is unknown, but at least one person was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. At least one individual was trapped inside a pickup truck, and firefighters were soon on the scene attempting to pull victims from the wreckage.
The collision blocked 610 South Loop eastbound lanes, leading to considerable traffic jams. Even when one lane of the Loop was opened later in the morning, traffic was still backed up for at least two miles.
It is currently unclear why the cargo van entered the Highway traveling in the wrong direction.
Wrong-Way Accidents: Why They Happen and How to Avoid Them
According to the Federal Highway Administration, roughly 3% of all car accident victims are killed in wrong-way driving (WWD) accidents. While this percentage might seem low, these accidents are cited as the most likely to result in a fatality.
The Administration states that these kinds of accidents can be more dangerous than accidents involving vehicles driving in the same direction due to the likelihood of high-speed head-on collisions and opposite direction side-swipes. Both of these types of accidents can be incredibly dangerous.
Unsurprisingly, one of the largest contributing factors in these sorts of incidents are the roads on which they occur. Usually, these collisions happen on divided roadways with limited access roads and exits. This means that, even if a person knows they’re traveling the wrong way, it can be difficult to find a way to turn around.
Unfortunately, studies into preventative measures for WWD have shown that Texas has the highest rate of WWD accidents in the country. In fact, Texas and the next two highest WWD states, Florida and California, account for about a third of all WWD accidents in the U.S. This is true despite the fact that both Texas and California have programs in place specifically to address issues that lead to WWD.
WWD accidents are often caused by entering the wrong ramp onto a highway. However, that action alone doesn’t explain why these incidents take place. Instead, we should consider the driving behaviors that can lead to such a situation, which include:
- Driving under the influence
- Distracted driving
- Poorly marked ramps
- Unfamiliar roadways
- Poorly designed ramps
- Lack of visibility
- Insufficient signage
- Drowsy driving
- Drivers experiencing a mental health crisis
Of these causes, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol accounts for the vast majority of WWD incidents. Because of this, the best way to avoid a WWD accident is to never drink and drive, or use drugs before getting behind the wheel.
If you’ve been involved in a wrong-way driving car accident in Texas, contact the Houston car accident attorneys of Lapeze and Johns, PLLC, today for help making a case or claim.