(02/18/13) - They're some of the most serious crashes on our nation's highways – accidents involving drivers going the wrong way - like the one that killed a Bay County teen and her sorority sisters on I-75 last year.
Our Washington Bureau has been reporting on ways to prevent these crashes since last spring, and now, the National Transportation Safety Board released a report of recommendations.
This is the National Transportation Safety Board's first wrong-way driving report in 24 years. It looks at crashes in which drivers entered the highway through an exit ramp.
"We want to try to prevent as many as possible," said Deborah Hersman, NTSB Chairman.
Out of more than 1,500 wrong-way crashes in a 5-year period, 936 wrong-way drivers were driving drunk; 126 of the drivers involved who were going the right way were also drunk.
Most of these impaired drivers are first time, but serious, offenders with blood alcohol levels nearly double the legal limit.
So, the NTSB is calling on the auto industry to install Driver Alcohol Detection Systems.
"Vehicles that can sense if you're impaired by just putting your hands on the steering wheel, or through the air, they have sensors to determine through your breath whether or not you're impaired. This would address this issue for everyone," Hersman said.
For the drivers who get caught driving drunk, the chairwoman wants all states to mandate ignition interlock devices.
The NTSB discovered factors other than just drunken driving. Older drivers are more likely to be involved in a wrong way crash, and nearly eight in 10 crashes happened between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The NTSB is targeting ways to help older drivers and nighttime drivers.
"Not just one wrong-way sign, but multiple wrong-way signs on a pole, they put them down lower, they have more of them spaced at more frequent intervals," Hersman said.
Last year, we showed you how several car companies are installing technology that alerts drivers when another car is approaching. But that's just one piece of the puzzle toward creating a better highway safety system.
"I really think it's important for all of us as drivers to be defensive, think about what's going on, be aware of other drivers on the road," Hersman said.
To read the NTSB's entire report on wrong-way driving and its recommendations, click HERE.
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