A new highway is opening in Austin in 2019. State Highway 45 Southwest (SH 45 SW) is billed as an “environmentally sensitive” four-lane toll road that will connect MoPac (State Hwy Loop 1) to FM 1626, and in addition to water quality checks and other environmental initiatives designed to keep the nearby region in good shape, it will also boast a wrong-way detection and notification system. While construction is not yet complete, this may be a significant help toward getting Texas’ problem with wrong-way crashes under control.
Wrong-Way Accidents Are Deadly
One might think that wrong-way accidents would be less common than certain other types of car crashes, and they are, but they are much more deadly than the numbers would suggest. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) examined wrong-way driving nationwide in 2012-13, in which statistics showed that wrong-way crashes were much more likely to be fatal – for example, studies in California and Virginia found that wrong-way crashes were between 12 and 27 times more likely to be fatal than other types of accidents, such as side-impact or head-on.
In Texas specifically, the Texas Transportation Institute has visited the question of what causes wrong-way accidents. Perhaps their most notable finding was that in their sample, drivers who had been drinking or engaged in the use of other substances were overrepresented, making up between half and ¾ of the total number of wrong-way drivers examined. While obviously, it is a good idea to try and reduce the number of wrong-way crashes by cracking down on those who drink and drive, the proposed system to be installed on SH 45 SW prefers to take a proactive approach, sending out alerts both to the driver via red lights, and to law enforcement and other motorists via dispatches and TxDOT active signs.
If You Have Been Harmed
Such a system planned for SH 45 SW could be installed on other roads around Austin if the pilot program succeeds, but for those who have already been harmed by wrong-way drivers, it may be a bit too little, too late. Given how deadly these crashes are, it is very possible to sustain life-changing injuries even if you do survive such an accident – but if you do wind up with serious injuries due to someone else’s reckless or negligent conduct, you may be able to hold them liable for your bills.
In order to hold someone negligent under Texas law, you must be able to show that four criteria have been met. You must be able to show that a duty to exercise reasonable care existed between the plaintiff and the defendant (in Texas, this is stipulated, meaning that both sides agree on it immediately, in the case of motorists – everyone on the road owes a duty of care to everyone else). You must also be able to show that that duty of reasonable care was breached and that it was breached directly by the actions of the defendant – that is, that there was no other superseding cause that played a role in causing your injuries. Finally, you must also show that you did, in fact, get hurt – that there is something to compensate.
Ask an Attorney for Help
It remains to be seen how effective the wrong-way system on SH 45 SW will be when the highway opens in 2019, but in the meantime, caution and common sense can help you avoid wrong-way crashes as much as possible. If you have been a victim of a wrong-way driver, contacting our passionate New Braunfels auto accident lawyers may be the first step to getting your medical bills covered. The Bettersworth Law Firm is happy to sit down with you and try to help decide what is best for you going forward. Call our offices today at 888-392-0039 to schedule a free consultation.