Nearly 700 'Wrong Way' Accidents Reported In KS

By: Natasha Trelfa Email
By: Natasha Trelfa Email

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In 2007, nearly 700 accidents were caused by people driving the wrong way. The Kansas Highway Patrol responds to those types of calls a couple of times a month in the Wichita area.

"At four in the morning, there's not a lot of traffic volume and it may take a driver longer to realize they're going the wrong way," explains Trooper Gary Warner with the Kansas Highway Patrol.

One accident happened just before 4 a.m. Friday. 32-year-old Veronica Bates of Derby was driving the wrong way in the northbound lanes of I-135 just south of the I-235/K-254 junction. That's when she side swiped a semi, lost control, and hit another semi. Bates received non-life threatening injuries.

It's a situation troopers say they see a couple times a month despite the extensive markings on highway interchanges letting people know which direction to head.

"Signage is probably the best thing and if that does not do the job, then there's probably other circumstances beyond your control," Warner says.

In 2007 the Kansas Department of Transportation reported 656 crashes caused by people driving the wrong way. That's down slightly from 2006 when 697 wrong way accidents were reported.

Some of the leading causes of accidents in the state still happen thanks to inattention and alcohol, causing 21,656 and 2,847 crashes respectively. If you find yourself facing a driver going the wrong way, troopers advise you to go to the right.

"The logic behind that is if the person realizes, 'I'm in the wrong lane' or 'I'm going the wrong way,' very typically, out of habit, would be to go to the right," said Warner.

If you find yourself facing the worst scenario, troopers said the best thing you can do would be just slow down.

"If a crash is imminent, what we want to do is reduce the severity level of that crash and slowing down would do that," said Warner.

The semi drivers involved in Friday morning's crash were not injured. There is no word on whether alcohol was involved.

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