Two women who had lived in Loudon County, Tennessee (TN), died on the interstate in western North Carolina during the early morning hours of October 17, 2017. The women’s car was struck head-on by a wrong-way driver somewhere between the Haywood County towns of Clive and Iron Duff.
Details on the deadly wreck are scarce. The North Carolina Highway Patrol continue seeking information on why the 49-year-old driver of a SUV from Waynesville, NC, was heading east in the westbound lanes of I-40 at the time of the crash. It is known that the deceased victims were a 79-year-old mother and her 49-year-old daughter.
News reports also indicate that the wrong-way driver suffered serious injuries but do not say whether he will face charges. A detailed analysis of wrong-way crashes conducted for the National Transportation Safety Board in 2012 determined that four factors explain most such collisions:
- Impairment by alcohol;
- Older driver issues like confusion, poor eyesight and delayed reaction time after errors that often get compounded by medication use;
- Unclear and low-visibility traffic control devices coupled with poor highway design for entrance and exit ramps;
- Insufficient in-vehicle driver support systems.
When North Carolina safety officials performed their own study of wrong-way crashes in the Tar Heel State, they found that
- 200 wrong-way crashes occurred on North Carolina roads and highways between 2006 and 2012
- 50 percent of such crashes resulted in injuries
- 48 percent involved alcohol
- 72 percent of all wrong-way crashes happened on interstates
- 67 percent of fatal wrong-way crashes happened on interstates
- 52 percent of all wrong-way crashes happened in rural areas
- 47 percent occurred between midnight and 6 am
This fatal head-on collision on I-40 in Haywood County shares many of the most-common characteristics of North Carolina wrong-way crashes. If investigators find out that the driver of the SUV who caused the deadly wreck was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or recklessly disregarded warnings not to use an off ramp as an on ramp, the family of the women who lost their lives would have strong grounds for filing wrongful death insurance claims.
Partnering with an experienced Carolina wrongful death attorney would help the out-of-state family stay up to date on the crash investigation. Seeking advice and representation from a plaintiff’s attorney who knows North Carolina laws would also help the family protect and exercise their rights to hold the at-fault driver financially responsible for taking the lives of their loved ones.