Alcohol is a major factor in head-on car accidents
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Alcohol is a major factor in head-on car accidents

On average, 360 people are killed each year in wrong-way collisions, and a majority of these car accidents involve drunk drivers. That's just one of the recent statistics on drunk driving accidents from federal accident researchers. Now the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is considering ways to reduce the levels.

The NTSB studied data from more than 1,500 accidents over a five year period. In 60 percent of the head-on collisions, the wrong-way driver's blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit. In another 10 percent of those crashes, blood alcohol levels were between .08 and.14.

In an attempt to curb the number of drunk driving accidents, the NTSB may recommend that all states require first-time drunk driving offenders to use ignition interlock devices. The devices test drivers' blood alcohol content before allowing vehicle engines to start. According to the Governors Highway Association, nearly 20 states have those laws already in effect. The Association says that Los Angeles and three other California counties already have similar regulations in place.

That could prevent some drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel and, perhaps, from driving on the wrong side of the highway. Head-on crashes start when drivers enter an exit ramp in the wrong direction. They may make a U-turn on the highway, or use an emergency turnaround through a median.

However it happens, wrong-way car accidents are deadly, especially on high speed roads. One recent study found that 22 percent of wrong-way motor vehicle accidents were fatal, while just .3 percent of all highway accidents over the same period were fatal.

Source: SCNow, "Wrong-way driving crashes claim hundreds of lives," Dec. 11, 2012

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