Two men died after a Chrysler 200 going east in the westbound lanes of E. Little Creek Road in Norfolk, Virginia (VA), collided head on with a Hyundai. The double-fatal crash happened near Nancy Drive at around 1 am on August 16, 2017. No one else was in either vehicle.
Police could not tell reporters why the person driving the Chrysler was heading the wrong way on the four-lane road, which is divided by a raised concrete and grass median. The fatal head-on collision occurred a few blocks east of the nearest intersection controlled by a stoplight for people turning left, which is Azalea Garden Road.
The wrong-way driver died at the scene. Emergency responders transported the driver of the Hyundai, identified as 26-year-old Jonathan D. Jones, to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, but he also succumbed to his injuries.
Wrong-way collisions on divided highways — Little Creek Road is Virginia Route 170 — tend to be fatal. One study performed for the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that from 2004 through 2009, “On average, about 360 lives are lost each year in about 260 fatal wrong-way collisions.”
More-recent NTSB and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics summarized in an October 24, 2016, Boston Globe article show that while “wrong-way collisions accounted for just 3 percent of crashes on high-speed divided highways in recent years … the fatality rate for wrong-way crashes is between 12 and 27 times higher than it is for other types of accidents.”
That article also notes that “national statistics show wrong-way collisions are most likely to happen between midnight and 3 am” — just as this one in Norfolk did. The early morning clustering of wrong-way crashes reflects, in part, the close association between drunk and drugged driving and getting onto the wrong side of the highway. Lost and confused elderly drivers make up the bulk of other wrong-way drivers.
It is not at all clear that the 39-year-old driver at fault for the deadly wreck on E. Little Creek Road in Norfolk was impaired. Even if he was not, his insurance policy should pay compensation and damages to the family of the young man who lost his life principally for being in the path of a wrong-way driver. Working with a Virginia wrongful death attorney will help the grieving family members fight for justice.