We've been getting lots of feedback today about the reports from that horrific collision on I-75 near Dunbridge involving a wrong-way driver. Among the suggestions is that some sort of barrier be established to keep people from getting onto ramps the wrong way. But as we reported in November, the road spikes that rental-car agencies use at airports to prevent people from stealing their cars aren't designed for freeway-speed traffic, and they would also be an obstacle for emergency vehicles that sometimes have to enter freeways the "wrong" way to gain access to accident scenes.
In my lifetime, I have witnessed one wrong-way driver on a freeway. It was on then Route 52 (now I-395) in rural northeastern Connecticut. My family was headed north toward Worcester, Mass., when we came upon an on-coming car in the left lane in the middle of the day. We got only a brief glimpse of the driver, but it appeared like he had no idea anything was wrong. This was in the days long before cell phones were common, and I don't recall that we stopped at the nearest pay phone to report it, nor do I know if anything bad happened afterward.
That incident occurred in broad daylight, but most wrong-way crashes occur late at night, and the overwhelming majority involve intoxicated drivers. They also mostly occur in the left lane, as did this one and the one a few years back on I-280 in North Toledo that killed five members of a Maryland family.
We won't know for some time if the latest wrong-way driver was impaired; investigations like this one typically take weeks, if not months, to complete. But one thing I can recommend -- and it's not "blaming the victims" to do so -- is minimizing time in the left lane during the wee hours, as some in our story comments have suggested. A wrong-way driver may not realize what's going on, but instinctively, they stay to the right most of the time. Actually, that raises a question we'll be looking into with this one, because somehow this driver "successfully" navigated the I-75/I-475 junction near Perrysburg without keeping to the right and ending up going the wrong way on southbound I-475.
Not that everyone should drive single-file in the right lane on the off chance a wrong-way driver might appear, but use extra caution and try not to be in that lane at locations where forward visibility is poor, such as on hills or rises and approaching curves. Because no matter who's to blame for a head-on collision, a closing speed of 130 mph (assuming both vehicles are doing the 65-mph speed limit) is very, very unforgiving.