Wrong Way Crashes in Newport News

Stephen M. Smith
Last Updated:
December 2, 2019
A damaged car after a wrong way crash.

A spate of wrong way crashes in Newport News has highlighted the dangers posed by drivers who travel in the wrong direction on the Peninsula. In Aug. 2019, a driver who was eluding police caused a wrong way wreck on I-64 in Newport News and injured five people.

Police said the accident in the early hours of the morning left two people in a critical condition. They tried to stop a driver who they suspected of driving drunk on Bland Boulevard in Newport News.

Police said that the vehicle failed to yield and entered westbound Interstate 64 in the eastbound lane where it crashed into another vehicle.

The suspect and two passengers who were traveling in the vehicle police tried to stop suffered injuries and were taken to a local hospital. The driver of the other vehicle and a passenger were hospitalized.

The wreck was investigated by Newport News police's Crash Team and Virginia State Police. A 34-year-old man from Hampton was later charged with drug possession, reckless driving, failure to keep right and distribution of drug paraphernalia.

Wrong way crashes in Newport News and elsewhere in Virginia often cause terrible injuries and prove to be fatal. Tragically, in 2018 Leonardo Maldonado, 59, from Newport News was killed when  a woman’s car collided with his Honda Accord. Virginia State Police said the woman was driving northbound in the southbound lanes of the interstate, Channel 13 reported.

What Are the Causes of Wrong Way Accidents?

Wrong way accidents are not as common as wrecks such as rear-enders but they are often more serious. Any head-on crash combines the forces of two vehicles and can be devastating for drivers and passengers.

Wrong way crashes are often caused by driver confusion or impairment. Unsurprisingly, they usually occur at night and alcohol and tiredness are possible factors. Here are the main cause of wrong way crashes in Newport News and elsewhere.

Alcohol and drugs - up to two-thirds of all wrong way crashes are caused by drivers who are intoxicated either by alcohol drugs. Often they are unaware they are heading in the wrong direction.

Age - Older drivers may get more confused and end up driving in the wrong direction. Some data suggests drivers over 65 are more likely to drive in an incorrect direction. Age and medical conditions were considered in a 2012 report by the National Transportation Safety Board. The public forum, Safety, Mobility, and Aging Drivers concluded age is not a determinate of driving performance, but older drivers are associated with an increase in medical issues and the use of prescription medications to treat conditions that may impair their driving abilities.

Tiredness - Fatigue is a significant cause of wrong way driving. If you have been on the road for a long time without a break you are more likely to enter the wrong lane.

Distracted Driving - motorists who are looking at their smartphones, eating, texting or talking to another person are more likely to end up traveling in the wrong direction. They may not realize until it’s too late.

Poor road design and misleading signs - Bad highway design, and poor ramp signage can cause a driver to travel in an incorrect direction.

An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board into wrong way driving found these crashes only amount to 3% of accidents in America but cause a significantly higher number of deaths. As we saw in Newport News, wrong way collisions often cause multiple casualties. The fatality rate in wrong way crashes is 27 times greater than in other wrecks, the NTSB reported.

The study examined a multiple-vehicle wrong way crash in Virginia that involved a vehicle making a U-turn. It concluded the roadway lacked adequate signage indicating a driver should not make a U-turn at the intersection.

Talk to an Injury Lawyer About Wrong Way Crashes in Newport News

Wrong way crashes in Newport News, Hampton or elsewhere in Tidewater are often extremely serious. If you have been hurt or if you lost a family member, talk to our Hampton-based personal injury lawyers as soon as possible. We know the pain a car accident places on people in Hampton Roads, whether physical or mental and we will fight the insurance companies hard for justice, in a court of law if need be. Please call the Smith Law Center today at (757) 244-7000.

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