Wrong-Way Driving

Executive Summary

This special investigation report looks at one of the most serious types of accidents that occur on our highways: these are collisions involving vehicles traveling the wrong way on high speed divided highways. The goal of this investigative project is to identify relevant safety recommendations to prevent wrong-way collisions on such highways and access ramps. The investigations included in this report take a focused view of the driver and highway issues affecting wrong-way collisions.
The report is organized into four sections. Section 1, "Wrong-Way Collisions," defines the problem, examines the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) history with these types of collisions and generally surveys the data and research concerning wrong-way driving collisions. Section 2, "NTSB Investigations," summarizes nine NTSB wrong-way collision investigations. Section 3, "Characterization of Wrong-Way Driving," considers the components of wrong-way collisions and uses data, research, and NTSB investigative work to summarize these types of collisions. Section 4, "Countermeasures," provides recommendations to address wrong-way collisions. Those countermeasures are organized to address the following safety issues:
  • Driver impairment, primarily from alcohol use, with consideration of older driver issues and possible drug involvement
  • The need to establish—through traffic control devices and highway design—distinctly different views for motorists approaching entrance and exit ramps
  • Monitoring and intervention programs for wrong-way collisions
  • In-vehicle driver support systems
As a result of this investigation, the NTSB is issuing safety recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; the states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia; the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials; the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, Inc.; the International Association of Chiefs of Police; the National Sheriffs' Association; SAE International; the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers; Global Automakers; and the Consumer Electronics Association.