Several families are grieving after at least four wrong-way crashes have occurred in San Diego County this week.
These crashes are preventable, but AAA says defensive driving can come in handy when trying to avoid wrong-way drivers.
“Alcohol impairment, by far the most common reason, older age among drivers and then drivers driving by themselves without passengers who can help alert them. Those are the three primary factors, why these wrong-way crashes are happening,” AAA spokesman Doug Shupe said.
Data shows these types of crashes have increased over the years. San Diego County has seen at least four wrong-way crashes in just as many days.
The latest happened Saturday in Chula Vista. Police say two cars were racing when one crossed into oncoming traffic, crashed, and killed a grandmother. Her grandchildren, who were also inside the vehicle were not hurt.
Two cars were racing when one of the cars, driving in the wrong lane, crashed into the victim head-on. NBC 7’s Mari Payton reports.
On Tuesday, a 52-year-old woman was killed in Carmel Valley. Four others were hurt.
In Fallbrook Friday, a driver arrested on suspicion of DUI, seriously hurt another driver who witnesses pulled from a burning vehicle.
Friday, two married San Diego Police officers were also killed in a fiery crash in San Ysidro.
“To be killed in a moment’s notice by a wrong-way driver; it’s difficult, and you know, it’s unfortunate,” San Diego Police chief David Nisleit said.
Nisleit said CHP staff are seeing more of wrong-way crashes.
“I don’t think anybody can understand why,” Nisleit said. “I just don’t know if it’s inattention or what it is, but it’s happening far too often, and in this case, it led to death.”
Recent analysis by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found from 2015 to 2018, 2,008 people were killed in wrong-way crashes. That’s nearly 500 deaths each year— up 34% from the previous four years.
These types of crashes can happen anytime of the day, but AAA said they are more common at night after bars close. To avoid wrong-way drivers, stay focused on the road ahead.
“If we do see something coming our way, it’s important that we slow down and move off the freeway as far to the right of the roadway or the freeway as we possibly can,” Shupe said. “You also want to make sure you’re flashing your headlights, honking your horn, trying to get that drivers attention to let them know they’re going the wrong way. What you don’t want to do is suddenly swerve out of the way or slam on your brakes which could cause an accident.”
Then, call 911. AAA said even spit-second distractions like eating, drinking, turning on the radio or looking at passengers can take our eyes off the road. AAA suggests you look far ahead while driving to avoid any challenges in the road.