Fortunately, I have never had the real life experience of seeing a wrong way driver at night on the highway. In the daytime, I have seen numerous wrong way drivers in cities with many one-way streets, like downtown Atlanta and Savannah, but I did not feel threatened as these drivers were traveling fairly slow and I saw that they quickly figured out their mistake without harming anyone. However, recently in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a city that boasts the highest number of taverns per person in the country, a wrong way driver entered the eastbound lane of I-94 (a major highway) and traveled in the opposite direction and struck an innocent motorist in a head on collision. The collision happened at night and tied up traffic for two miles, and clearing the accident took more than five hours. Sadly, the wrong way driver passed away. The details are sparse and do not contain any information as to whether this wrong way driver was impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. Yet, at 8 p.m. at night, it is hard to believe that such a driver was guilty of simply bad judgment.
The question becomes…. what would cause a motorist to drive the wrong way on a major highway? I believe the answer is simple: drugs, alcohol or a combination of the two. Studies indicate that the incidence of wrong way drivers increases at night between 1-3 a.m. And, if you are driving by yourself at or around the same time on the highway, then by all means, avoid the fast lane on the far left as if your life depended on it…because it does. That’s because research shows that most wrong way drivers typically enter the far left lane and encounter little resistance…until they do…at a high rate of speed.
Some of these wrong way drivers have been drinking at their favorite bar, restaurant or club. I remember a collision that involved a fatality where the grossly negligent and inebriated driver had just left a “gentleman’s club” in Atlanta. He entered I-75 traveling the wrong way, struck an innocent motorist and both were killed in the ensuing crash. Based on receipts from his credit card and blood alcohol test, it was determined that the at-fault driver had just left the topless bar and was heading home seriously intoxicated.
In this incident, an enterprising and clever attorney figured out that the at-fault driver had a dram shop action against the bar for over-serving the driver and then allowing him to leave the premises in his automobile. However, the attorney did not have any witnesses from the bar that could corroborate his theory of liability. So, the attorney hired a man to visit the bar several times a week at night and endear himself to the bartenders. After several months, this “plant” became a regular at the bar and worked himself into the inner circle of regular customers. Coupled with his generous tips and gift of the gab, he was able to elicit information from the bartender(s) on duty on the night of the fatal collision as to the number of alcoholic drinks served, the type of alcoholic drinks and the relative short time period of consumption of alcoholic drinks of the deceased driver. More importantly, the “plant” was able to obtain admissions from the bartender that the at fault driver was obviously under the influence of alcohol as a result of the barrage of drinks consumed at the bar prior to entering his vehicle and entering the highway. In the end, the bar was sued and either settled or was forced to pay a seven-figure verdict for the death and damages to the innocent motorist – a motorist that was driving in the far left lane.
Many of my clients have reported to me that they have developed some form of post traumatic crash syndrome that exhibits itself time to time as they operate their vehicles in Georgia. For some clients, it is unnerving to see vehicles attempt to turn left in front of them or chance the opportunity to beat a red light. Either way, it is yet another reason to be vigilant and on edge when driving in the big city. And, now you know, that you also have to be attentive when driving your vehicle in the far left lane on the highway – particularly, at night…
Please note that the Law Offices of Kevin C. Ford is currently accepting accident and collision cases throughout Georgia, including collisions caused by a drunk or wrong way driver. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of the negligence of a motorist, then please contact an experienced attorney for a free consultation to document and preserve evidence and present your claim in a competent and timely fashion. We have over 20 years experience and practice throughout the State of Georgia and can come to you. Please call 404-869-6969 or use our toll free number (855) LAW-FORD to secure your rights today!