Seeing headlights coming toward you on the interstate is certainly unnerving, as you immediately know that someone is driving the wrong direction. Unfortunately, many people who get involved in these accidents do not even have the time to think about that. The crashes happen so quickly and unexpectedly that they only piece together the events after the fact.

Certainly, if this happens to you, you may wonder why the driver was going the wrong way in the first place. For one thing, they should’ve noticed that traffic was moving against them almost immediately. For another, on-ramps have plenty of signs telling drivers if they are going the wrong direction, and there are more signs on the interstate itself. How could a driver possibly think that they were operating their vehicle correctly while making this type of egregious error?

The top cause is impairment

Researchers have wondered about this, although the reason they found may not surprise you: Impairment. People are far more likely to drive the wrong way when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They make mistakes that are confusing to sober drivers around them, and they may not even be able to explain why they made those mistakes in the future. The impairment just clouds their judgment and makes it impossible for them to make wise decisions.

Are there any other reasons?

You can find the occasional case where someone is driving the wrong way and they are not impaired. Experience and confusion can play a role. For instance, a young driver may lack the experience to realize that they have made such a critical mistake. An older driver may be more likely to get confused, especially if the effects of aging include things like Alzheimer’s or general mental confusion. But these cases are rare compared to the number of crashes that are caused simply by the use of alcohol.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by a wrong-way driver, you may have suffered catastrophic and life-changing injuries. Be sure you know exactly what steps to take to seek the compensation that you deserve.