The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a report showing there were an average of 500 fatal wrong-way crashes per year across the United States from 2015 until 2018. That's up 34% annually when compared to the period from 2010 to 2014. The state of Wisconsin saw one of the highest increases.
"There is a national trend of increases in wrong-way, head-on collisions like this. And in particular, in Wisconsin, we saw the third highest increase - about six times higher than the nation average increase," said Nick Jarmusz, Director of Public Affairs for AAA.
According to TMJ4, Wisconsin's Department of Transportation says these are the types of crashes they intentionally try to prevent.
Michael Pyritz, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Southeast Region, says alcohol or drugs are often a factor in deadly crashes.
"Unfortunately, a lot of people make decisions that are not appropriate. [They] get behind the wheel when they shouldn't be behind the wheel, and even with the signs and the blinking lights and everything else sometimes, they get behind the wheel. That in the end can be very costly," said Pyritz.
Wisconsin officials have installed a technology called BlinkLink at 20 Milwaukee-area interstate ramps in addition to wrong-way signs that line entrance ramps. BlinkLink was placed primarily in high-risk locations where drivers are more likely to be confused.
"What that system does, it alerts our traffic management center that a wrong-way driver has been detected and instantly that information goes to the Milwaukee County Sheriff. At the same time it goes to us in the State Patrol. So that information all comes together at the same time," said Pyritz.
Officials say if you ever encounter a wrong-way driver, get out of the way of the oncoming traffic and call 911 immediately.
Source: TMJ4 Milwaukee