What to Do When Faced with a Wrong Way Driver

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By Marcus Fernandez

It’s an instance where you only have seconds to react. Faced with the bright lights of a vehicle as it approaches you, you are witnessing a wrong way driver in action. It’s an unfortunate situation that has become increasingly prevalent trend in recent years. The National Transportation Safety Board estimates that an average of 350 people die every year because of a wrong way driving accident in the U.S. While law enforcement, private organizations and even car manufacturers are trying develop wrong way driving countermeasures, avoiding a wrong way accident can sometimes only be solved at the driver level. 

What you can do when faced with a Wrong Way Driver

Here are a few tips should you ever come face-to-face with a wrong way driver.

Never Drive While Intoxicated

With an estimated 60 percent of wrong way incidents involving an impaired driver, the first step to a safe ride home is to never drive while intoxicated. If you are going out and know you will be having a drink, make sure to plan ahead. Assign a designated driver, have the cab company’s number in your phone, or utilize ridesharing services like Uber or Lyft. These choices are all easy alternatives to driving drunk and risking your life or someone else’s.

Avoid Distracted Driving

Drivers must always remain vigilant in order to avoid accidents. Common driving distractions include driving while drowsy, adjusting radio or climate controls, paying attention to other passengers in the car, or dialing, texting or even talking on your cell phone.

Look Ahead

Giving yourself the precious seconds needed to react is critical. Keep your head up and try to look as far ahead as possible so that you can accurately anticipate any potential issues on the road.

Be Aware of Roadway Markings

Some wrong way driving accidents are a result of being in unfamiliar territory. Be mindful of roadway signs, and look at the lines on the road. The solid yellow line should always be on the left side of your car. Additionally, many roadway reflectors will show red, instead of white or yellow, if you are traveling in the wrong direction.

“Stay Right at Night” 

Wrong way drivers often travel in the far left lane or shoulder, and believe that they are traveling in the right of way. When driving, try to stay in the right lane as much as possible. If you are traveling on a three-lane road, drive in the middle lane to help give you as many defensive driving options as possible. If a wrong way driver is in your path, quickly check for nearby traffic, and pull to the right side of the road as soon as possible.

Dial 911

Your first priority should always be to get yourself to safety. Once you are able to pull to the side of the road, dial 911 or *FHP (*347) to alert authorities. Try to provide any details such as the make or model of the car, your location and the direction the other driver was traveling.

By staying alert and keeping these suggestions in mind, you can grant yourself the needed time to make important defensive driving solutions if faced with a wrong way driver.