Investigation of Wrong-Way Driving

Project status

In progress

Start date: 07/01/17
End date: 12/31/17


Principal investigators:

About the research

Wrong-way driving is an area of high concern across the United States, particularly due to the fact that such collisions involving wrong-way drivers tend to be among the most severe crashes in terms of injury and crash costs. In Iowa, these types of crashes are relatively infrequent with an average of 15.6 crashes per year on the Interstate system and 23.4 crasher per year on other freeways and expressways.

Despite these relatively low frequencies, the rate of wrong-way crashes that result in fatalities are 11.5 and 10.2 percent for these facility types, respectively. Collectively, this is 17 times the fatality rate for all crashes in the state over this same time period. The rate of severe injuries is also markedly higher among wrong-way driving crashes. Consequently, if even a subset of such crashes can be prevented, this would represent substantial crash cost savings to Iowa.

Most of the research to date has focused on high-speed divided highways, particularly interstate and full-access control freeways. While these facilities require grade separations, a particular concern in Iowa is the presence of expressways, where access from the crossroads tend to occur at-grade. This represents one area where additional investigation is necessary. In addition, the Iowa DOT has collected valuable data as to the prevalence of wrong-way driving on the US 30 corridor, which has the potential to address another longstanding concern on wrong-way driving.

The objectives of this project are to assess the state-of-the-art and state-of-the-practice as it relates to countermeasures to address wrong-way driving and investigate the nature and magnitude of wrong-way driving issues occurring in Iowa.


Sponsor(s): Iowa Department of Transportation