DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The alarming number of wrong-way crashes in Texas has transportation safety experts looking into new ways of how to prevent such dangerous accidents.
The Texas Department of Transportation says in 2011 there were 329 wrong-way crashes statewide. 79 were in the four major North Texas counties. More than half of that number were in Dallas County.
And a study conducted two years ago found alcohol is a common denominator. The study, conducted by the Texas Transportation Institute, shows alcohol is nearly always a factor, explained Mark Pettit of TxDOT. “It’s as high as 75 percent of drivers are under the influence.”
Gwen Edwards knows the dangers of drinking and driving all too well. She lost her son in a fatal car crash more than a year ago. But the pain is still with her. “Anger, yes,” said Edwards. “I still have a lot.”
In November of 2010 her son, Louis Edwards was a passenger in the car of a drunk driver who went the wrong way on I-35.
He crashed head-on with another vehicle. Louis was the only one who died. He was only 22. “Losing a child is a lot different than losing a mother, a father, a sister or brother,” an emotional Edwards said.
Early Wednesday morning there were two accidents caused by wrong way drivers.
One in Irving actually triggered another accident involving a fire department vehicle.
While one in Fort Worth involved a head-on collision between a pickup truck and car. That wrong-way driver is now facing a drunk driving charge.
As for Gwen Edwards, she says her grief is still hard to bear. She’s turned to Mothers Against Drunk Driving for help and says more needs to be done to protect drivers on the road. “The drunk driving laws keep the driver safer than it does the victim. The laws need to be stiffer.”
An upcoming TxDOT research project will take a look a wrong-way driving countermeasures. It will begin September 1.
The main goals will be to identify what methods are most successful in getting the attention of impaired drivers, and finding out which countermeasures are most effective in properly orienting wrong way driver, or alerting them to the fact they’re going to the wrong way.
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