A terrible wrong-way crash on I-495 in Middleboro recently killed five people, including four college students. The young men, all between the ages of eighteen and twenty, were traveling on the correct side of the highway when a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction struck them head-on. The driver of the other vehicle also died in the crash.
The investigation is still open, but at the time of the crash, a state police spokesperson said that the college students had not done anything wrong and that their car’s driver likely had no time to react to the wrong-way driver speeding towards them.
The young men were students at two local colleges, two at Becker College in Worcester and two at Anna Maria College in Paxton. So far, there has been no explanation for why the wrong-way driver was in their lane. Investigators are looking into whether alcohol or drugs could have been involved, although they haven’t said whether this is likely or not.
What is known is that the driver traveled nearly five miles in the wrong direction before the crash, and that she entered the interstate via a ramp at Route 105, also in Middleboro, which has been criticized as having inadequate warnings to keep drivers from making just this kind of mistake. Since the crash, there have been calls to improve the design of this intersection—or at least to significantly upgrade the signage—to prevent a similar accident in the future.
We had just written about the recent spate of deadly wrong-way crashes in the region when this one occurred. The most serious of those crashes left five Vermont high school students dead. This result is all too common on American highways: Only about 3 percent of crashes are caused by wrong-way drivers, but they are much more likely to cause a fatality, and according to the National Transportation Safety Board, there are between 350 and 400 deaths due to wrong-way crashes every year. Although the cause is never determined for some, many of them are blamed on driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Massachusetts might take a page from the wrong-way crash prevention book being pioneered by our neighbors in Rhode Island. They’ve already installed a new prevention system at twenty-five high-risk interchanges which in the first year and a half of use brought fatalities, injuries, and accidents all to zero at what had previously been some of the most dangerous places on Rhode Island’s highways. The system prevented at least sixty-six wrong-way incidents. The state is planning to install it at twenty-five more interchanges over the next year.
The victims of all crashes, including those caused by wrong-way drivers, deserve compensation for their injuries, any property damage caused, lost wages and income, ongoing rehabilitation costs, and any other expenses associated with the accident.
It’s often difficult to make sure this happens without the right attorney on your side. At Joel H. Schwartz, PC, we understand the practice of automobile accident law in all its forms. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation by calling 1-800-660-2270 or reach us through the contact form below so that we can put our experience to work for you.