Two innocent people wound up hospitalized with injuries after a wrong-way driver caused a chain-reaction crash on the interstate near Richmond, Virginia (VA), early in the morning of December 6, 2017. The wreck, which involved two cars and a tractor-trailer, happened close to Exit 58 from I-95 in southern Chesterfield County.
Virginia State Police received the report of the incident a little after 4 am. Investigators determined that the 20-year-old driver of a Saturn was traveling north in the southbound lanes near the interchanges with Ruffin Mill Road and Woods Edge Road when he collided head-on with a Nissan Altima. An 18-wheeler driver who was following the Nissan swerved to avoid the wreckage, hit a Jersey wall in the median and wound up partially blocking a lane on the opposite side of the interstate.
All three drivers were transported to Southside Regional Medical Center. The wrong-way driver died, while the woman behind the wheel of the other car survived with serious injuries. The tractor-trailer operator received injuries that were described as “minor.”
The investigation into the deadly wreck continues, but troopers told reporters that they believe alcohol played a role in causing the young man driving the Saturn to head into oncoming traffic on I-95. As part of a webinar delivered in April 2016 for the National Academies Transportation Research Board, an official from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) stated that “about 69 percent of fatal wrong-way collisions had indications of alcohol involvement.” That compares with data indicating that around 31 percent of all fatal traffic crashes involve a drunk driver.
The FHWA official also pointed out that 48 percent of wrong-way crashes that result in at least one death happen between the hours of midnight and 6 am, and also that the large majority of wrong-way drivers on the interstate use an exit ramp as an on ramp.
Drunk drivers take a terrible toll on Virginia roads and highways even when they stay on their own side of the street. During 2015, the state saw 7,591 alcohol-related crashes that resulted in 241 deaths and 4,917 injuries. Unfortunately, both alcohol use and the risk for drunkenly driving the wrong way increase during December. In reporting the fatal head-on collision in Chesterfield County, Richmond television station WWBT included this paragraph:
Holidays are an especially dangerous time for drunk driving, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving representatives. Last year, 115 people were killed during Christmas week across the nation, reported the organization. MADD continues to encourage everyone to have a designated driver anytime drinking is involved.
Preventable crashes like this one on I-95 are why my Virginia personal injury law firm colleagues and I only sue drunk drivers. Even though the young man who caused the wreck in Chesterfield County lost his life, his car insurance will remain in effect until all legitimate claims get settled. Working with an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer will help the injured woman and tractor-trailer driver recover medical expenses.