LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Lexington police officer was seriously injured Monday morning when the cruiser she was driving was involved in a crash with a motorist who police said was driving in the wrong direction on New Circle Road.
The driver of that car was killed and the officer was taken to the hospital in serious condition.
Wrong-way driving incidents, while down across Kentucky in recent years, have become a real issue across the country.
“They looked at 2010-14, then looked at 2015-18, and while those are a different number of years, they took the average, and it went from 375, up to 500 fatalities. That’s a steep increase,” said Lori Weaver-Hawkins from the American Automobile Association of the Bluegrass.
The study led analysts to determine a variety of causes for the increase, but there was a consensus on at least one of the reasons.
“The big one that was actually involved in 60 percent of these fatalities was alcohol,” Weaver-Hawkins said.
Another contributing factor is age. Many of the crashes involved those in the 70-79 age range, which makes Weaver-Hawkins wonder if something is being missed.
“Are we diagnosing medical conditions that might be impacting someone’s ability to make the right decisions behind the wheel,” she wondered.
Weaver-Hawkins said having a passenger helps reduce the number of these types of crashes. The extra set of eyes can help correct a potentially devastating mistake.
Driving teachers have several tips for how to handle these situations if you should ever encounter one while driving.
- Slow down and move to the right as much as possible.
- Travel in the center lane.
- Don’t slam the brakes (Doing so could cause a pile-up behind you).
- Use your horn and bright headlights to get the attention of the other driver.
Basically, it boils down to being prepared.
“Have an exit plan. I mean that’s it, have an exit plan,” said Amber Wedding, who owns the Central Kentucky Driving School in Lexington.
What’s the clear route? Is that median clear? Is the shoulder clear? If I make a rash move right now will it create a greater situation, or will it avoid something,” she explained.
Naturally, AAA does not want to see these numbers continue to rise when they evaluate wrong-way collisions over their next block of three to four years.
“This (increase) tells us there’s something we’re not being mindful of,” Weaver-Hawkins added.