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Austin Ben White Car Wreck Is Another Deadly Wrong Way Crash

Another wrong way wreck for Austin.

Early this morning, Austin had its latest traffic fatality when a driver was driving the wrong way on Ben White Boulevard, resulting in a head-on collision with a Tombstone Pizza delivery truck.  A passenger in the wrong way vehicle was ejected from the vehicle and immediately killed.  The driver of the car was pinned in and suffered serious injuries.  The driver of the delivery truck was largely unharmed, though the cab of his truck did catch on fire.

This seems like it should never happen — a driver driving down the highway the wrong way.  But it’s much more common that people think.  Nationwide, people are killed or injured in wrong way wrecks on an almost weekly basis.  And Austin hasn’t escaped the problem.  I’ve been writing about wrong way wrecks in Austin for at least the last two years.  And last year, Austin had two wrong way car wreck fatalities within a couple of weeks of one another.

Most of these wrecks have several characteristics in common:

  • Most occur at night  (today’s occurred at 4:00 a.m.);
  • Most of the wrong way drivers are either impaired by alcohol or drugs or, to a lesser extent, are elderly drivers (alcohol is suspected in today’s wreck); and
  • Many occur on roadways with confusing entrance/exit designs.

These wrong way wrecks are particularly problematic for several reasons.  They often involve fatal or serious injuries.  Due to the nature of the wreck, most of these are head-on collisions, which bring a tremendous amount of force.

They are also hard to avoid.  When an innocent victim is traveling in the proper direction, they are usually at the mercy of the wrong way driver.  And statistics show that wrong way drivers are often impaired, making it hard for a person traveling the proper direction to really anticipate the wrong way driver’s next move.

Finally, these wrecks are going to become an increasing problem.  They often occur on highways that have confusing entrance and exit ramps.  As Austin grows, we have more and more large highway intersections that are potentially confusing and offer opportunities for wrong way drivers to enter roads the wrong way.

For more information on wrong way drivers, you can read some of my prior posts on the problem:

You can also read the Texas Transportation Institute’s worksheet: Wrong Way Driving on Freeways in Texas:  Problems, Issues & Countermeasures.

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