Phoenix area deals with spate of wrong-way crashes; figures give more insight on why they happen

The Phoenix area has seen a spike in wrong-way crashes in the past couple of weeks.

In one incident, which happened on the morning of Feb. 4, two drivers were injured as one vehicle was heading south on the northbound lanes of State Route 51. The driver involved is suspected of impairment, and was admitted to the hospital.

The crash on SR51 happened just a week after two people were killed in another wrong-way crash on the Loop 303. In that incident, the driver allegedly had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit.

The increase in wrong-way crashes is not merely an indication of what happened in recent weeks, as figures are also showing the same trend.

"Wrong way crashes on divided highways are more frequent not only here in Arizona, but across the country, and that is very disturbing," said Aldo Vasquez with the Arizona AAA. "When these crashes happen, they are violent and fatal."

Figures from AAA show that certain factors play a role in a person becoming a wrong-way driver. They say alcohol is the biggest determiner, while age plays a role. They also found the majority of the drivers did not have a passenger.

"Here in Arizona, there was 61 deaths on divided highways from 2015 to 2018, and that represents a 66% increase from the nine deaths we saw here in the state from 2010 to 2014," said Vasquez.

Officials with AAA say more needs to be done in terms of driver education to curb this problem. Meanwhile, officials with DPS suggest drivers to stay in the right lanes if they are driving late at night, since wrong-way drivers travel on the left side.

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