Study: Alcohol plays major role in fatal wrong-way accidents

There's No Substitute for Experience

Wrong-way collisions are dangerous, especially on highways and interstates where vehicles are closing in on each other at a high rate of speed. Due to the deadly nature of these types of accidents, which claim hundreds of lives per year, the National Transportation Safety Board recently met to address the problem and try and come up with a solution.

The NTSB reviewed a study that included 1,566 crashes, as well as nine wrong-way collisions that the board had previously investigated. From there it was found that in 59 percent of the accidents, the drivers who were traveling the wrong way had blood alcohol contents at least twice the legal limit. Additionally, another 10 percent of the wrong-way crashes involved a driver with a blood alcohol content between .08 percent and .14 percent, which is still over the legal .08 percent driving limit.

When looking at the role drunk driving plays in these types of crashes, according to NTSB members, in 2010 there were around 32,000 motor vehicle fatalities in the U.S. Of those, alcohol impaired crashes accounted for roughly 31 percent of the accidents.

To try and reduce the number of wrong-way collisions, and reduce drunk driving accidents, many safety advocates want to see all states pass a law that requires ignition interlock devices for those convicted of driving under the influence for the first time.

This type of device requires a driver to blow into a breath test type of machine. If the device registers a blood alcohol content over a certain limit, the vehicle will not start. The thought is this device will deter people from drinking and driving, and therefore, reduce the number of accidents caused by drunk drivers.

So far, 17 states have some sort of ignition interlock device law on the books for first time offenders. As of now, Tennessee is not one of those states.

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