Real Life ‘Wrong way vehicle’ experience

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Real Life ‘Wrong way vehicle’ experience

Post by brian » Tue Jul 14, 2009 3:52 pm

July 2009: Working in the Accident reconstruction/Vehicle Dynamics field, I always drive defensively knowing the possible consequences of highway collisions. A recent incident reminded me how close each of us is to possible injury and/or death when on the road:
I was awoken at around 3 am on Saturday July 11 because an alarm at my storage warehouse had been tripped. So after I hung up from the alarm monitoring service I decided to travel the 30 minutes to the storage facility to be sure everything was OK. I was leaving at 7 am the next day on a flight so the thought of ignoring it wasn’t an option.
I decided to take the roundabout journey from my house in Cary, SW of Raleigh, to the warehouse NE of Raleigh. The most direct route included a lot of traffic stops at lights and a lot of two way traffic. Bars close at 2 AM so I thought that one hour after bar closing time would not be a good time to be travelling the streets sitting at stoplights.
So I took US-1 North to the I-40/I-440 beltway around South Raleigh. SouthEast of Raleigh I-40 East splits off and the 440 Outer Beltway continues to North Raleigh. The roadway is a 3 lane divided highway in each direction with a 65 MPH speed limit.
As I travelled I had noticed a white Jeep which was travelling in my same direction in the far right lane and so I travelled in the far left lane to give maximum distance between us. A coupe of other cars I had seen had ‘drifting’ problems wherein the vehicle drifts from one side of the lane to the other. I had watched the Jeep and saw no issues.
Approximately a mile after where US I-40E splits off from the 440 Outer Beltway I noticed a set of lights heading towards me. This indicated A VEHICLE WAS TRAVELLING THE WRONG WAY ON THE DIVIDED HIGHWAY!!
I immediately started slowing down from my 65 mph travel speed (less closing speed) and moved to the right to the middle lane of travel. I didn’t want to pull in right behind the White Jeep because if the vehicle struck the Jeep then I would be the faced with 2 cars rapidly decelerating and possibly spinning out in the road in front of my path. I really couldn't pull left because there was a concrete median barrier.
So I held my position while favoring the right side of the lane/movement to the right lane and was continuing to slow. As soon as the car cleared the Jeep ahead i moved to the right and watched as the vehicle passed by me approximately 1-2 feet to my left.
After catching my breath, I immediately called 911 to report the idiot traveling the wrong way on a 65 MPH limited access highway!
My good fortune at avoiding what could have been a potentially fatal crash was emphasized by a similar incident which I saw reported in the paper the next day while I was in Buffalo: ... 31034.html
And as my grandmother always used to say, ‘bad luck comes in threes’; At a gathering on Sunday a friend’s 21 year old son Scott relayed how in December 2008 he too was involved in a ‘wrong way crash’. Although he swerved to avoid the vehicle, he was clipped which resulted in moderate back injuries (He was struck on the passenger side of his vehicle as the ‘wrong way’ vehicle passed).
Be careful out there on the roads!
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