Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fatal Wrong-Way Driving Trend Count: 3

Kennebec Journal's Meghan Malloy, a.k.a. "The Kennebec Commuter" blogger, posted an interesting summation of this year's unusual series of fatal accidents caused by people driving the wrong way on the highway. It took me a little while to find the actual address of the blog, as the posts are primarily listed as articles on independent pages (and even an article ABOUT the blog didn't seem to list its address), so please let me share with you where the blog itself is located: http://kennebecjournal.mainetoday.com/blogs/commuting/

The blog is dedicated to "traffic, constructions, weather and other issues that affect and surround your daily commute." You know, all those annoyances that preoccupied commuters before the torturous gas prices began obsessing us. Especially useful in this post are the seemingly simply but undoubtedly effective tips given by Lt. Arthur Murdock towards the end of the article.
KENNEBEC COMMUTER: Driving the wrong way is a deadly trend

Something has been troubling the Kennebec Commuter lately, and it’s not I-295 drama or gas price drama; rather it is what appears to be a disturbing trend.

People driving the wrong way on Interstate 95 and injuring — even killing — other people and themselves. There have been three reported accidents already this year that have killed three people, including a 15-year-old boy.

The first accident was in late spring, when Donna Bartlett, 38, allegedly drove south for five miles in the northbound lanes of the turnpike near Ogunquit before crashing head-on with a limousine, killing the driver, James McLaughlin, 65, and Cooper Campbell, 15.

A month later, Jeffrey Blais, a 53 year-old Augusta man, died just north of Augusta when he struck another vehicle driven by a Portland woman. Blais drove for almost seven miles — headed north in the southbound lane — before he collided with the other car. Trooper Jeffrey Beach has said Blais suffered from mental illness and the accident was “a very unfortunate series of events,” rather than an intentional act.

Most recently, and most ominously, state police are probing a Thursday evening accident which left a 29-year-old Waterville man seriously injured. Richard Crowley, the driver, was driving north, state police reported, then drove into a crossover to head south, but rather than drive south, Crowley continued to travel north. State police said he struck a guardrail, which shot through Crowley’s car engine and into the car itself.

Accidental or intentional, the Kennebec Commuter finds these incidents very tragic. In agreement is Maine Turnpike spokesman Dan Paradee, who called the three fatalities “a very strange phenomenon.”

“It’s one that we hope will stop,” Paradee said of the flurry of awful accidents.
After all, how common is it to get on the opposite lane on an interstate? More than one might think, Lt. Arthur Murdock of the Maine State Police said.

“Common? No, but it does happen,” Murdock said. “We do stop motorists going the wrong way. Sometimes (the drivers) are elderly and become confused, or (the drivers are) drunk.”

The three fatalities in the close time span — a span of less than two months — have also mystified Murdock. “Yes, we get those calls, but having it result in a fatality is not common,” he said.

Despite its abnormality, Murdock said drivers on any interstate should constantly be aware. “If someone is in the opposite lane, and they’re coming toward you, really the only thing you can do is take an evasive action,” Murdock said. “Pull off the extreme right side of the interstate.”

Added Trooper Sean Kinney, “Don’t hang out in the left lanes too much, especially at night. Even if someone is driving the wrong way, they’ll most likely be coming at you in the left lane.”

Click here for full article: [Source]

No comments: