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Why is Louisville seeing an increase in wrong-way crashes? AAA data may provide answers

Friday, two people died and another was seriously injured in a wrong way crash on I-264 Eastbound.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — There have been at least three wrong way crashes in Kentuckiana in October alone, and 12 so far this year. 

Representatives with AAA say wrong way crashes from the agency's latest 2015-2018 study rose 34% over the previous study period.

"Crashes are up significantly when it comes to these wrong way drivers," Lynda Lambert with AAA East Central said. 

Other AAA data show from 2010 and 2018, there were 3,885 deaths from wrong way crashes in the United States. More than half of those deaths were the wrong way driver themselves. 

Lambert said the cause of the crashes is clear. AAA reports alcohol is often involved. 

"Six out of ten wrong ways crashes involve alcohol, so it is a deciding factor," she said. 

Crashes, especially those involving drunk driving, can lead to serious consequences for drivers.

Personal injury lawyer Alex White said in Kentucky they can be charged for reckless homicide, second degree manslaughter or even murder. 

"If it's a wanton situation where someone is doing conduct we know puts human life at disregard then the charge would be murder in Kentucky," White said.

In June, a wrong way crash on I-64 west near 3rd Street killed two people. The driver was found to be under the influence and charged with 2 counts of murder. 

"We know that driving drunk puts human life at complete disregard, so it is an option for prosecutors or police officers," White said of pressing charges in similar cases.

In White's line of work, justice more often means compensation through insurance, either for the victim or their family, even if the at fault driver dies.

"There is no dollar amount that can replace or fix or heal what happened," White said.

White said to protect yourself, you can increase the amount of protection you carry in uninsured motorist coverage.

Lambert said safety is mostly about making smart choices, like not drinking and driving or not driving drowsy, to keep the roads safe for everyone. 

"Our habits and behaviors don't match with our beliefs," she said. 

Triple A also found older drivers, especially those over 70, and drivers who are alone, were more likely to be involved in wrong way crashes.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet wrote "The Cabinet is looking into statewide opportunities for infrastructure-based solutions to address wrong-way crashes. Roadway infrastructure improvements are part of a comprehensive effort to curb these tragic events. It is not uncommon for impairment to be a factor in wrong-way collisions. Driver education is another proven intervention we’re investing in to prevent crashes that may stem from unsafe driving behaviors."

RELATED: 'She was a beautiful soul' | Elizabethtown woman killed in wrong-way I-65S crash identified

RELATED: Man involved in fatal wrong-way Dixie Highway crash indicted by federal grand jury

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