Driver assistance systems, Motorway, Traffic violations
Dri­ver assi­stance sys­tems

Acci­dents cau­sed by wrong-way dri­ving on motor­ways

In Germany, approximately 1,950 incidents of wrong-way driving occur on motorways every year. By contrast, accidents resulting from wrong-way driving are rare but they have serious consequences. The purpose of the present study was to use accident data relating to wrong-way driving incidents on motorways in order to identify patterns, assess possible countermeasures and compare their effectiveness.

The presented analyses and assessments are based on data for a total of 224 accidents resulting from wrong-way driving incidents. The information comes from various sources and varies in the specific items reported. The analyses reveal clear accident patterns. These include, for example:

With regard to the distance driven by wrong-way drivers in incidents that ended with accidents, we find that more than 50 % of the instances of wrong-way driving ended after less than 2 km. However, at 18 %, a high proportion of these incidents only ended after more than 10 km. At 41.1 %, entering the motorway via the exit road and/or deceleration lane was the manoeuvre that most frequently led to wrong-way driving. At 37.7 %, turning manoeuvres were almost equally often the cause of the incident. The analyses also show that, at 79.3 %, men were significantly more often responsible than women for a wrong-way driving incident that resulted in an accident. It is particularly striking that almost half (48.1 %) of all the wrong-way drivers were aged 65 years or older. It is shocking to note that almost half of the accidents resulted from intentional wrong-way driving. It can also be clearly seen that younger wrong-way drivers are more often under the influence of alcohol than older ones. In cases where it was possible to say anything about any disorder that may have been present, dementia and confusion were the most prevalent impairments, accounting for approximately a third of such cases.


Infrastructural measures have no effect on the great majority of intentional wrong-way driving incidents and can have no influence on the resulting accidents. They address only wrong-way drivers who are unintentionally responsible for such incidents. Technological app-based, in-vehicle measures address both the wrong-way drivers themselves and other road users. In cases where the technology intervenes actively in the wrong-way driver’s car, such measures are very effective because intentional wrong-way drivers are also addressed. Otherwise, only unintentional wrong-way drivers are addressed.

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