California safety officials worry over spate of wrong-way crashes

There are various ways to interpret statistical data, with the following extrapolation of numbers driving home in both a figurative and sadly literal sense a most sobering point regarding roadway perils in California.

To wit: Although only about one-tenth of one percent -- that is, one of every thousand occurrences -- of all fatal motor vehicle accidents in California reportedly have a direct nexus with wrong-way driving, wrong-way crashes still accounted for 69 deaths in the state from 2011 to 2014.

Conclusion: Driving in California can be a frenetic and dangerous enterprise, with many millions of vehicles operating on state roads and freeways and fatal accident outcomes sadly occurring in many thousands of cases.

Fatal wrong-way crashes are currently an uppercase concern for California safety officials, especially in and around the Sacramento area, where a number of deadly collisions have occurred this year. Reportedly, 14 people have died in those crashes. The most recent occurred just last week, when, in the early morning on Tuesday, a pickup truck collided with a passenger car. All three people involved in that accident died.

"It may be a cluster rather than trend," says one California safety officer.

Hopefully, he's right, of course, given the magnified risk of a fatal outcome in these singular crashes.

Authorities flatly express some bewilderment around "why now, why here" issues contributing to the rash of deadly outcomes in the Sacramento area. They say that similar factors often serve as catalysts in such crashes, regardless of where they occur in the state.

Unsurprisingly, drunk driving is a precipitating factor in many such accidents. The California Highway Patrol also points to dementia as being a proximate cause of wrong-way driving and resulting deaths.

Understandably, safety officials are presently scrutinizing all crash details and looking for ways to prevent further loss of life.

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