wrong way drunk drivingLast Thanksgiving Phoenix motorists dodged a couple of the most lethal bullets out there: wrong-way drivers.  Police arrested two drivers who were headed the wrong way down the road in the wee hours.

One, a woman, was arrested for Extreme DUI, which in Arizona means her blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was above 1.5, about twice the legal limit. At that level of intoxication, a person is extremely dangerous on the road.

The second incident happened the same night (or morning, technically). In this case the driver managed to make it about nine miles before he was apprehended. Since he was not under the influence, he was cited and released.

Wrong Way Driving: Look For the Alcohol

Wrong-way driving is one of the most dangerous of actions, because it cuts the reaction time of both drivers in half.  Making it even more perilous is the fact that the majority of wrong-way drivers are intoxicated: an NTSB Special Investigation Report found that, in one study, 72 percent of drivers traveling in the wrong direction had been drinking.

In another, more than half of wrong-way drivers involved in fatal collisions had high BAC levels.

There can be other factors that can send a driver down a road the wrong way: bad signage is one. Age can also come into play – drivers over 70 are over-represented in collision stats of this type. But wrong-way crashes are also more common on the weekend, when people drink more. The NTSB puts the final figure of wrong-way crashes caused by alcohol at sixty percent.

Arizona continues to take drunk driving seriously, with its all-offender ignition interlock law, DUI checkpoints, and No Refusal laws (criminalizing the refusal of sobriety tests upon a DUI arrest). The tendency of a drunk driver to turn around and aim at others on the road is the reason states need to take drunk driving as seriously as Arizona does.

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