Early in November, a 31-year-old New Hampshire man was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison in connection with a wrong-way collision. Ryan Kittredge entered a guilty plea to manslaughter and reckless conduct after a three-vehicle crash that resulted in two deaths. One of the victims was a retired Massachusetts police sergeant.
Kittredge was originally charged with several other offenses, including driving while intoxicated, and the Press Herald reported that he admitted to having “allowed a bartender to grossly overserve” him before the accident.
Unfortunately, Kittredge’s story isn’t unique. While wrong-way collisions are relatively rare, they also carry a significant risk of death or serious injury. Nationwide, wrong-way crashes kill between 300 and 400 people each year, according to the Federal Highway Administration. The greater seriousness of these accidents stems from the fact that a high percentage are either head-on collisions or opposite-direction-sideswipe accidents at relatively high rates of speed. And, alcohol is often a factor.
Why Do Wrong-Way Crashes Happen?
Many factors affect the likelihood of wrong-way collisions, including the age and sex of the driver, the time of day, road markings, and how well or poorly lighted the road is. Studies conducted in various states have revealed that:
· Nearly 90% of wrong-way-driver collisions take place on straight roads, rather than the seemingly more dangerous curves, hills and dips,
· More than half of wrong-way-driving crashes involved head-on collisions,
· About 27% of wrong-way collisions in one state occurred on exit ramps,
· About 18% of wrong-way crashes in the same state involved one car crossing the center line,
· Most wrong-way-driving accidents happen in business districts in urban areas versus rural roads or highways, and
· About 58% of wrong-way drivers in another state were confirmed to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Avoiding Wrong-Way Traffic Accidents
Of course, standard safe driving practices will help reduce the risk of wrong-way collisions. Avoiding driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a significant factor in avoiding this and other types of serious traffic accidents. Similarly, avoiding distraction and refraining from driving when fatigued will help minimize the likelihood of crossing the median, taking a turn onto the wrong ramp or a one-way street. These precautions also significantly increase the likelihood that you will notice and be able to take swift evasive action if another vehicle crosses the median or turns into your lane.
It’s also important not to blindly rely on directions of GPS navigation systems: even if you’ve been instructed to make a turn or take a particular exit, make sure that you are alert for signage and other warning signals.
If You’ve Been Injured by a Wrong-Way Driver, Help is Available
Wrong-way collisions often cause serious injury or death. If you’ve been injured or have lost a loved one to a wrong-way driver, you are likely entitled to compensation to help you recover. Wrong-way driving almost always involves negligence, particularly when it results from distracted driving, driving under the influence, disregarding traffic signals, and other risky behavior.
Depending on the circumstances, other parties may share responsibility with the negligent driver. For example, if the street or exit isn’t properly marked, the governmental entity responsible for design and maintenance of the roadways may be partially liable.
When the funds you need to rebuild after a serious accident or the loss of a loved one is at stake, it’s important to choose an attorney who has the knowledge and experience necessary to identify all possible responsible parties and theories of liability and to assemble the evidence necessary to effectively pursue your claim. Attorney Kevin J. Broderick has chosen to focus his legal practice on helping people who have been injured recover fair compensation. He has extensive experience in representing victims of car accidents in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Schedule a free consultation to learn more about your rights and options after a wrong-way accident or other car or truck accident caused by someone else’s negligence. Just call 978-459-3085 or fill out the contact form on this site to get started.