Police have identified the woman killed after crashing into a light-rail train as she was traveling on the wrong side of the road in downtown Phoenix early Sunday morning. Phoenix police said the 30-year-old woman, Tameka Talise Spence, was driving a 2014 Nissan Sentra eastbound on Washington Street — which is westbound-only — when it crashed into a southbound light-rail train at First Avenue. wrong way driver dui accidents, wrong way driver lawyer
She was pronounced dead at the scene and was the only person in the car. The train’s operator and two men on board weren’t injured. Police determined the train’s operator was not impaired. Police suspected driver was impaired when the collision occurred.
New Laws For Wrong Way Drivers Under The Influence
Wrong-way drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol will now face felony charges, under a law signed by Governor Doug Ducey.
The bill, which Governor Ducey called for in his January State of the State address, is part of an aggressive effort by Arizona to curb wrong-way driving. HB 2243 would automatically charge an impaired wrong-way driver on the highway with a felony.
“We wake up too frequently these days to the report of another death on our highways. A wrong-way driver – and in many cases, it comes back to drugs or alcohol,” Governor Ducey said in his January address. “You’d think it was obvious by now, but to anyone out there who hasn’t gotten the memo: Booze, drugs and driving don’t mix. Your actions are beyond foolish – they are lethal. And we will not tolerate it.”
It’s the most terrifying sight most drivers could imagine: you’re heading down the highway and suddenly, a car or truck is headed straight towards you, driving the wrong direction in your lane. Thanks to signage and barriers like medians, it’s not a situation that occurs very often, but it still happens often enough that it’s a problem in Arizona, but our country.
According to the US Department of Transportation, about 350 people die in the US every year because of a wrong way driving accident. That may not sound like a very big number, but it’s shocking when you think about all the signs and other safety measures installed to prevent people from going the wrong way. So how are all these accidents still happening?
National Transportation Safety Report on Wrong Way Collisions
The National Transportation Safety Board recently compiled a special report in which they looked at data from wrong way accidents to find common trends. Some of the characteristics they discovered were:
Drivers over the age of 70 are overrepresented as at-fault in wrong way accidents. The NTSB does not speculate why older drivers are at a higher risk to be in a wrong way accident, but in some cases this may be due to difficulty seeing signage, as vision tends to get worse as we get older.
Most wrong way movements involve a vehicle entering an exit ramp. This may in part be due to unclear signage or a driver’s unfamiliarity with a city.
Wrong way collisions are more likely to occur at night. The combination of tired drivers, intoxicated drivers, and lack of visibility due to darkness make it much more likely that wrong way accidents will occur at night. In fact, the NTSB found that 78% of all wrong way crashes occur between 6 pm and 6 am.
Wrong way crashes disproportionately occur on the weekend. Again, this may be in part due to the fact that more people go out drinking on the weekend than on weekdays.
Most wrong way collisions occur in the lane closest to the median. The NTSB found that 7 out of 9 wrong way collisions occur in this lane.
The Majority of Wrong Way Drivers Are Intoxicated
As you might imagine, this is by and large the most common cause of wrong way accidents. A meta-analysis by the NTSB found that more than half and as many as three quarters of wrong way accidents are the fault of a drunk driver. In the cases where the blood alcohol level of the driver could be found, the majority of at-fault drivers were found to have a BAC at or above .15—almost twice the legal limit.
Because many wrong way drivers have had previous DUI convictions, the NTSB recommends requiring anyone who has had a DUI conviction to use an alcohol ignition interlock device, or another in-vehicle alcohol detection device that would prevent the individual from driving if their BAC is over .08. Harsher penalties for DUIs and, of course, continuing to educate the public about the consequences of drunk driving could also serve as good deterrents. If we continue to pursue every route possible to prevent drunk driving, we can stop the overwhelming majority of wrong way accidents.
If you’ve been involved in a wrong way DUI accident contact the law office of AZ Hometown Lawyers right away at (602) 495-1005.