A Honda Civic heading east in the westbound lanes of the divided highway through Russell County, Virginia (VA), collided head-on with a pickup truck just before sunrise on November 1, 2017. The crash killed the wrong-way driver and sent the man behind the wheel of the pickup to a hospital on the Tennessee border with severe injuries.
Virginia State Police received the report of the head-on collision at 6 am. Responding to the community of Hansonville south of Lebanon, troopers determined that the Civic driver had traveled some distance in the wrong direction where U.S. 58. U.S. 19 and State Route 614 come together.
The wrong-way driver died at the scene. A medevac helicopter transported the pickup driver to Bristol Regional Medical Center. Troopers did not have a ready explanation for why the man in the Civic was driving into the path of oncoming traffic.
When the National Transportation Safety Board commissioned a special report on the causes of wrong-way crashes and how to prevent them, researchers found the following risk factors:
- Impairment from alcohol use
- Confusion by elderly drivers
- Impairment by prescription medications and illegal drugs
- Insufficient traffic control devices
- Inadequate highway design
- Poor visibility for street signs
- Insufficient attention to the problem of wrong-way driving by state transportation officials
Whatever causes a driver to travel the wrong way on a highway, the results are often tragic. According to the Federal Highway Administration, “In the United States, WWD [wrong-way driving] crashes result in 300 to 400 people killed each year on average, representing approximately 1 percent of the total number of traffic related fatalities that occur annually. While this is a small percentage overall, because WWD crashes involve head-on or opposite direction sideswipe crashes at high speeds, they tend to be relatively more severe than other types of crashes.”
When his health permits him to do so, the pickup truck driver who survived the head-on collision on U.S. 58 in Russell County should consider contacting an experienced Virginia personal injury lawyer to discuss options for filing insurance claims. Even though the wrong-way driver died, his insurance policy will remain in effect until all claims filed in a timely manner are settled. Because an insurance company can make it difficult to receive settlements from a deceased policyholder, enlisting the assistance of a dedicated personal injury lawyer will help clear away barriers to receiving compensation and damages.