Sergio Avila

Heading the Wrong Way with "Wrong-Way" Driving

California Fatal Wrong-Way Crash Rate Climbs 64%

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (March 23, 2021)  – The latest data analysis from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows fatal wrong-way driving crashes on our nation's highways are getting worse. Researchers found that the odds of being a wrong-way driver increased with alcohol-impairment, older age, and driving without a passenger. 

"Fatalities from wrong-way crashes are heading in a dangerous direction," said Sergio Avila, spokesperson for AAA Northern California. "AAA and the NTSB urge state transportation agencies to adopt driver-based countermeasures to combat this deadly trend."

Researchers from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety examined eight factors relating to these types of crashes. The following increased a motorist’s odds of being a wrong-way driver: 

  • Alcohol impairment:  The single most significant factor, with six in ten wrong-way crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver.
  • Drivers over age 70: Despite spending less time on the road and driving fewer miles per trip than younger age groups.
  • Driving alone: Nearly 87% of wrong-way crashes involved driving without a passenger. 

AAA and the NTSB urge state policymakers to adopt effective driver-based and infrastructure countermeasures that address these leading factors. This includes alcohol ignition interlock devices for DUI offenders, high-visibility enforcement, installing more-visible traffic signs and signals that follow national standards, and changing state laws to help identify medically at-risk drivers.

AAA Northern California reminds drivers to use good judgement before getting behind the wheel. 

  • If you are driving, don't drink. If you are drinking, don’t drive.  Make a plan to have a designated driver if you consume alcohol, marijuana or potentially impairing prescription medications.  
  • Stay alert. Stop driving if you become drowsy. Fatigue impacts reaction time and judgment, causing people who are very tired to behave in similar ways to those who are drunk.

About AAA Northern California

AAA has a proud history of serving Members for over 100 years. AAA is on a mission to create Members for life by unleashing the innovative spirit of 4,000 employees representing 6 million Members across Northern California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming and Alaska. In addition to legendary roadside assistance, AAA offers home, auto and life insurance, and extraordinary travel services. According to Via Magazine's Smart Guide, being a AAA Member can save you more than $1,200 a year. Learn more at