It was revealed by police that the wrong-way driver who caused a major car crash on Taconic State Parkway in Mount Pleasant, New York (NY) that killed the driver, and seven people last summer, was speeding and under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana.

The driver’s blood alcohol level of 0.19 (the legal limit in NY is 0.18) and an autopsy revealed “high levels” of marijuana, according to USA Today. The at-fault driver was traveling 85 mph when the speed limit was only 55 mph, according to the Associated Press.

Whenever I hear about a wrong-way car wreck, my first thought is, “What would cause someone to become so confused that they didn’t realize they were on the wrong side of the road?” Unfortunately, the answer is usually drugs or alcohol.

I wrote an article about drunk and/or drugged wrong-way drivers and recalled when my wife was driving on Interstate 64 near Richmond, Virginia (VA) with my daughter when she suddenly noticed a driver coming straight towards her and watched several cars forced to veer out of the way. All in broad daylight! I’m forever grateful that she was lucky enough to avoid that wrong-way driver in a head-on wreck.

Wrong-way drivers are not just a problem in New York. In fact, three people were killed within three months of each other on VA highways like Interstate 264 (I-264), I-295, and I-64 by wrong-way drivers. It’s not the type of accident that happens every day, but when a driver travels the wrong-way on a road of highway, the consequences are usually tragic.  

There may be the rare instance where a truly confused driver winds up traveling down the wrong lane of highway, but the vast majority of wrong-way car accidents involve a drunk or drugged driver. It’s frustrating since many of these accidents may have been prevented if the at-fault driver simply exercised caution, been more responsible and decided not to get behind the wheel of a car when they were intoxicated.