2nd serious wrong-way driver crash in a week critically injures driver

Green Subaru Forester is obliterated during wrong-way driver crash on Interstate 15 Friday night, Orem, Utah, Jan. 12, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — One person was hospitalized in critical condition Friday night following a head-on collision in Orem involving a wrong-way driver on Interstate 15.

Shortly before 11 p.m. officers and emergency responders were dispatched to the collision on I-15 northbound near 400 North in Orem involving a dark green Subaru Forester and a black Ford F-150 pickup truck.

Driver is trapped in a Ford pickup following a wrong-way driver crash on Interstate 15 Friday night, Orem, Utah, Jan. 12, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

Upon arrival responders found the Subaru driver trapped inside the vehicle with significant injuries. Once freed from the wreckage, he was transported to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in critical condition but is expected to survive, according to a statement released by the Utah Highway Patrol Saturday.

The man driving the Ford was also trapped when emergency personnel arrived, but after he was extricated from the truck, he declined medical transport and was instead transported to the hospital by family members.

Troopers learned during the crash investigation that the Subaru entered I-15 heading south in the northbound travel lanes, and, according to witnesses, was seen traveling in the middle lanes of the interstate while weaving through oncoming traffic.

The Subaru, approaching 400 North at 70 mph, struck the Ford which spun around and crashed into the concrete barrier on the outside shoulder of the roadway, while the Subaru came to rest on the opposite side of the interstate next to the left travel lane.

Green Subaru Forester is obliterated during wrong-way driver crash on Interstate 15 Friday night, Orem, Utah, Jan. 12, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

“The impact was an off-centered head-on crash, striking the left front corners of both vehicles,” the statement said.

All lanes of travel, with the exception of the HOV lane, were blocked by debris scattered across the interstate during the crash.

Troopers closed the lanes while traffic was diverted onto the HOV lane until the debris was cleared with assistance from a street sweeper from the Utah Department of Transportation.

Troopers found open containers of alcohol inside of the Subaru and suspect the driver, Dayton Smith, 21, of Orem, of driving under the influence of alcohol when the crash occurred.

Charges are pending.

A similar head-on collision involving a wrong-way driver on I-15 in Weber County sent one driver to the hospital and another driver to jail in the early morning hours of Jan. 6.

Read more: Maserati driver going wrong way on I-15 leads to head-on crash, rollover

Deadly wrong-way crashes 

Only about three percent of all crashes involve a wrong-way driver, and while these types of collisions occur fairly infrequently, they are much more likely to result in death or serious injury than any other type of highway accidents, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

These crashes typically occur on a divided highway or access ramp and involve head-on or opposite direction sideswipe crashes at high speeds. On average, about 360 people each year are killed in wrong-way driver crashes, According to the National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB.

The issue of wrong-way driver collisions became a focus of the NTSB in 1968 following the agency’s investigation of a multiple-fatality crash involving a wrong-way driver in Bakersfield, California.

The agency conducted several studies over the next 10 years, and the findings from all studies showed that a substantial proportion of wrong-way drivers are impaired by alcohol, forming the basis of many of their recommendations.

In 2012, the NTSB released a special investigative report using data collected over a six-year period from 2004 through 2009, showing consistencies from year to year.

The report showed that 60 percent of wrong-way driver collisions involved drivers who had indications of alcohol involvement, and most involved a vehicle entering an exit ramp.

The findings also indicated that the majority of wrong-way drivers involved in fatal crashes were between the ages of 20 and 50. However, above the age of 70 the number of wrong-way drivers involved in fatal collisions more than doubles. This could be due to difficulty seeing signage, according to the NTSB, as vision tends to get worse as people get older.

Researchers also found that nearly 80 percent of wrong-way crashes took place between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., and a majority of those crashes that resulted in death occurred at night when visibility is limited. Well over half took place on the weekend.

This report is based on statements from law enforcement and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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  • utahdiablo January 13, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    Utah needs to put this pos drunk driver away for a damn long time….

  • Honor1st January 14, 2018 at 1:40 am

    Maybe spikes on exit ramps that would disable wrong way drivers ?
    Just wondering . . .

    • comments January 14, 2018 at 12:54 pm

      a lot of cities use those……

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