Is there a way to survive wrong way crashes?

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A wrong way driver caused a crash that shut down the main lanes of the Eastex Freeway at Calvacade

If you think there are more stories about wrong-way drivers colliding on freeways and roads in the Houston area, you are right. The story count reflects a disturbing increase.

In 2013, the Texas Department of Transportation reported 168 wrong-way accidents in Harris County. Last year, that jumped to 251.

Law enforcement says most of those are linked to drunk or impaired drivers.

DPS Trooper Richard Standifer is blunt.

"Somebody's who's drunk doesn't care about speed limits, traffic markers, they're looking at anything. Their one goal is to get where they want to go," Standifer said.

Sometimes that involves turning the wrong way on a frontage road, cutting across a median, and into oncoming traffic on a freeway. Other times, they use an exit ramp for a entrance, often with deadly result.

Standifer has advice for anyone who suddenly confronts an oncoming set of headlights.

-Don't freeze and simply wait for impact. Instead take your foot off the accelerator. That will lessen the force of impact should you be hit. Perhaps enough to save your life.

-Steer out of the way. Standifer says use your judgment, but often pulling to the left will get your out of an impaired driver's path.

-Turn off your lights-if safe. Drunk/impaired drivers are often attracted to lights, because of distorted vision. It's also a reason law enforcement vehicles already out on traffic stops, are struck by drunk drivers.

Most of all, have an emergency scenario in case disaster heads at your head-on.

"People assume everyone will go the speed limit, stop at lights and obey traffic laws," he says. "I think that's assuming a bit much."
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