HOUSTON — It’s a terrifying sight for any driver — a pair of headlights headed straight at you with only a split second to decide how to react.
Wrong-way drivers are disturbingly common on Texas roads, especially in Houston.
Recent cases include a November 2020 crash in Sugar Land that killed resident Diana Ortiz. In June of 2019, innocent driver Josef Wallace was killed instantly in a wrong-way incident in Richardson.
Texas leads the country in wrong-way deaths, according to AAA.
AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety Researchers, along with the NTSB, were able to determine the factors that stood out, like alcohol impairment and being alone in the car. They say based on the data, being an older driver can be a predictor for being a wrong way driver.
What can you do?
AAA and the NTSB remind drivers to use common sense before getting behind the wheel and offer the following tips to prevent wrong-way crashes:
- If you’re drinking, don’t drive
- If you’re driving, don’t drink
- If a wrong-way driver approaches, slow down and move as far to the right as possible
- You're also urged to pull over immediately, call 911 and give them a description of the car, location and direction of travel — don't forget to speak clearly and remain calm
Police we spoke to say more patrol units are needed to respond faster to incidents like this before a crash occurs.
Sergeant Richard Standifer told KHOU 11 that he tells his loved ones if they don’t have to be on the roads late at night — then they should choose to stay off the streets.