Lieven Samyn

Growing number of accidents caused by wrong-way drivers

Last year a total 16 road traffic accidents were caused by wrong-way-drivers. Wrong-way drivers drive either intentionally or by mistake against the direction of traffic. The figure of 16 accidents in 2017 was the highest since 2009. The figures come from the Vias Institute for road safety.

Accidents involving wrong-way drivers account for just 0.35% of all road traffic accidents involving injury on motorways. However, 3.5% of road traffic fatalities on the country’s motorways.  

The injuries suffered in an accident involving wrong-way drivers are on average 10 times worse that injuries sustained in other road traffic accident. Over the past decade 265 people were killed or injure in 123 accidents involving wrong-way drivers. There were 41 fatalities and 224 injuries during this period. One in three accidents involving a wrong way driver result in a fatalities. In one in five such accidents it is the wrong way driver that is killed.  

In 36% of cases the wrong-way driver was under the influence of alcohol. This figure is 4 times higher than the 9% figure for road traffic accidents involving injury as a whole.

18% of wrong-way drivers involved in road traffic accidents is over 65. Pensioners make up just 4% of those involved in road traffic accidents where injury is sustained as a whole.

Two types of wrong-way driver

The traffic expert Willy Miermans told VRT News that in general terms there are two types of wrong-way driver. Those that do it on purpose and those that do it as a result of intoxication or forgetfulness.  

However, other issues are at play. "In Flanders at lot of motorway junctions are quite complex. Some slip roads are just side streets. This makes it hard to choice the right one. In neighbouring countries the entrance and exit slip roads are much more visible between the other junk”, Mr Miermans told VRT News.