AZCentral reports that on Sunday, October 29, a wrong-way crash involving a tour bus took the life of one person and injured seven others.
The department identified the man as Felix Perez, 27, of Jurupa Valley, California.
The incident happened around 3:46 a.m. on Sunday in the northbound lanes of State Route 101 between West Thunderbird and West Bell roads.
About two minutes before the crash, troopers received multiple calls about a pickup truck driving south on the northbound lanes of the highway, the department said. Shortly after, they received reports of a head-on crash between the wrong-way vehicle and a large recreational tour bus that had seven people inside and was pulling a trailer.
Perez was thought to be impaired at the time of the accident. He was taken to a local hospital, where he later died. The news also reports that “A passenger inside the tour bus was ejected during the crash and was taken to the hospital. Another passenger was taken to the hospital with minor injuries, and the other five occupants were treated at the scene.”
Why wrong-way accidents happen
Wrong-way crashes, where a vehicle travels in the opposite direction of traffic on a road or highway, occur for several reasons, often resulting from a combination of factors. Some common causes of wrong-way crashes include:
- Impairment. Alcohol and drug impairment is a significant contributor to wrong-way crashes. Impaired drivers may have reduced cognitive functions, impaired judgment, and decreased perception of their surroundings, making them more likely to enter a roadway in the wrong direction. Our attorneys will go after both the driver and the establishment that overserved them.
- Confusion or disorientation. In some cases, drivers may become disoriented or confused, especially when entering or exiting complex highway interchanges, unfamiliar areas, or poorly marked construction zones. This confusion can lead to drivers inadvertently entering the wrong lane or direction.
- Medical conditions. Certain medical conditions, such as dementia or seizures, can cause drivers to lose awareness and control of their vehicles, potentially leading to wrong-way driving incidents.
- Inadequate signs and road markings. Poor or inadequate road signage, missing or confusing lane markings, or faded paint on the road can make it difficult for drivers to determine the correct direction of travel. This lack of clear guidance can contribute to wrong-way crashes, particularly in low-visibility conditions. Our attorneys will hold the right governmental entities responsible.
- Distracted driving. Distraction from activities like using a cell phone, eating, or adjusting the radio can lead to a lack of awareness and poor decision-making, potentially resulting in a driver entering a roadway in the wrong direction.
- Fatigue. Fatigued drivers may exhibit impaired judgment, slower reaction times, and difficulty maintaining attention to the road. These factors can increase the likelihood of wrong-way driving incidents.
These collisions are common enough around here that the Arizona Department of Transportation actually installed “a first-of-its-kind thermal camera detection system pilot project” to try to stop wrong-way collisions, and has made changes to the size and position of its signage on ramps and overpasses all over the state.
A note about speed and wrong-way crashes
Our injury lawyers have represented folks who have been seriously injured in wrong-way crashes, and while the circumstances can vary, there’s one thing they all have in common: they always seem to happen at very high speeds. This makes sense, because unless one of the drivers fell asleep behind the wheel, there would be no reason for a low-speed wrong-way crash; you’d have time to avoid it if that were the case.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says that speed can influence the severity of a crash and its resulting injuries in four specific ways:
- It increases the distance a vehicle travels from the time a driver detects an emergency to the time the driver reacts.
- It increases the distance needed to stop a vehicle once the driver starts to brake.
- It increases the risk that an evasive steering maneuver will result in loss of control.
- It increases crash energy disproportionately. For example, when impact speed increases from 40 to 60 mph (a 50 percent increase), the energy that needs to be managed increases by 125 percent. This additional energy needs to be absorbed and dissipated, challenging the vehicle structure and increasing the likelihood of severe injuries.
We would also point out that many wrong-way crashes are head-on collisions. We point this out because the final factor IIHS lists – the way the energy is dispersed – can play a more significant role in a head-on crash. Typically, the force of the impact is double what it would be for a single car hitting a stationary object.
Wrong-way collisions, for this reason, tend to end in catastrophic injuries, such as brain trauma or paralysis, even if all drivers and passengers survive. Analysis done by the AAA Foundation in 2021 found that, between 2015 and 2018 (the most recent data they had at the time), there were an average of 500 deaths each year from wrong-way crashes.
In addition to these physical injuries, wrong-way crashes can also cause significant emotional trauma. Victims of wrong-way crashes may experience anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mental health problems.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a wrong-way crash, a qualified Phoenix personal injury attorney can help you hold the at-fault driver accountable for your injuries and losses.
Talk to the attorneys at Plattner Verderame, PC today to find out your eligibility for compensation for your accident. We are here to help. Just call our Phoenix or Tempe offices or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment with a qualified attorney.
I have been active in leadership in the Arizona Association for Justice (lawyers who represent injured folks, and formerly known as the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association) since 1985. I served as President in 1991. I was an active participant in battles to protect the Arizona Constitution from the insurance industry and big business interests in 1986, 1990 and 1994.
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