Travel expert: Wrong-way crashes on the rise

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SAN DIEGO – San Diego County has seen a string of wrong-way crashes in the last few days, and travel experts say these types of collisions are on the rise across the nation.

On Friday morning, a wrong-way crash on I-5 in San Ysidro took the lives of a married couple who were San Diego Police detectives, along with the life of the wrong-way driver, according to San Diego Police. 

Another wrong-way crash in Chula Vista left one woman dead on Saturday night, and authorities believe the collision was caused by street racing. Witnesses told investigators two drivers were racing each other at high speeds and traveling west on L Street, according to Chula Vista Police. One of the racing vehicles ran a red light and crossed into oncoming traffic, where it slammed into the woman’s car head-on.

On Sunday morning, there was another head-on crash in Spring Valley.

“What’s happened in San Diego County in recent days in very alarming,” said Doug Shupe, a travel expert with AAA of Southern California.

Shupe said while Caltrans data shows wrong-way collisions in California only account for about 1 percent of highway crashes, they’re often deadly and on the rise.

AAA data shows there were 2,008 deaths from wrong-way crashes between 2015 and 2018 nationwide.

“That was an average of 500 each and every year, and what that analysis found is that was actually 34 percent higher than the previous four years,” Shupe said.

He said there are three main factors for these types of crashes, overall.

“By far the majority of them happen because of impaired drivers either alcohol or drug driving,” he said.

Shupe also said drivers over the age of 70 are more at risk of wrong-way driving, along with those driving alone.

To turn these wrong way crashes around, Shupe said stay alert, don’t drive impaired, and know what to do if a vehicle is heading your way.

“Slow down and immediately move as far to the right as you possibly can; try to use your flashlights, your headlights, flash your headlights, honk your horn to try to get that drivers attention,” he said. “What you don’t want to do is immediately slam on your brakes because that could cause someone behind you to rear end you or quickly swerve out of the way which could cause you to lose control.”

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