The Arizona Department of Public Safety is scrambling to come up with a strategy to combat the recent string of wrong-way crashes happening around the Interstate 17 and Loop 202 areas. The fourth crash in two weeks occurred on May 24 near New River around 11 p.m. According to reports, a Jeep was driving the wrong way on Interstate 17 when it crashed head-on into a pickup truck. The Jeep had apparently been going in the wrong direction for approximately three miles before the crash. According to officials, both of the vehicles' front ends were unrecognizable after the crash.
Both the driver and a passenger in the Jeep were taken to the hospital. The driver's condition was unknown at the time of the reports, but the passenger reportedly suffered a severe brain injury. The driver of the pickup truck was expected to recover after being transported to the hospital. Officials believe that impairment may be a factor in the crash, and the northbound lanes of the interstate were closed for several hours until 1:45 p.m. the next day.
Three other wrong-way crashes have occurred in recent weeks. On May 12, a police sergeant was killed in a wrong-way accident by a driver who had apparently been going in the wrong direction for a full 30 minutes. May 16 brought a wrong-way crash on Interstate 17. Three people were killed and another three injured, and on May 18, two were killed and another two injured in an accident that occurred on Loop 202. Police believe that impairment may be a factor in that crash as well.
Officials say that getting impaired drivers off of the roads is the number one priority at the moment, followed by discussions on engineering, education and enforcement. Because wrong-way crashes are often head-on, the chances of serious injury and head trauma increase. Even if the victim survives, there may still be a long road ahead of hospital stays and rehabilitative treatment. Compensation awarded from a civil suit can help pay for medical expenses and treatment costs so victims can focus on getting back to normal.
Source: KPHO, "DPS: 3 injured in I-17 wrong-way crash near New River" Phil Benson, May. 25, 2014
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