Oregon State Police Trooper Michael Holloran said Monday’s wrong-way accident involving three vehicles on Interstate 84 east of The Dalles is an example of why motorists need to be watching ahead while traveling.
He said the most recent available crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that wrong-way drivers are involved in 1.5 percent of all fatal crashes across the country.
He said wrong-way drivers typically drive in the inside land or inside shoulder on the freeway, believing they are actually on a two-lane highway.
The most common types of accidents involving these drivers are head-on or the sideswiping of another vehicle.
Holloran said wrong-way drivers are usually elderly people who get confused more easily, intoxicated motorists and inattentive people who mistake an off ramp for an on ramp.
He said wrong-way crashes are also caused by drivers who intentionally try to avoid a traffic jam or congestion caused by an accident.
In addition to watching far ahead on a roadway for someone traveling in the wrong lane, he said motorists should look for pending problems or developing emergency situations.
These include traffic braking or swerving to avoid something or, more obviously, headlights coming in the opposite direction.
Holloran cautions drivers not to travel in the inside lane of freeways for long periods of time as a safety measure, especially on curves.