Great moments in driving

Here is a video of three minutes of a driver speeding along on an interstate seemingly oblivious to the fact that it was in the wrong direction and causing oncoming drivers to swerve to avoid a collision.

What is astonishing is that the driver did not brake, swerve, or otherwise try to avoid oncoming traffic but drove as if they had the right of way. This could have ended in a tragedy but luckily only minor injuries occurred.

Here is the story.


  1. publicola says

    And I thought Boston drivers were dangerous! This is what happens when you let dead people drive.

  2. blf says

    WMDKitty@3, In this case, not being in a car (van, whatever, …) is even better. (Another non-driver here, albeit I am licensed (no car and don’t want one).)

  3. Ridana says


    MONTVILLE, CT -- While police say the elderly driver caused three accidents, police said there were only minor injuries.
    State police said no arrests have been made.

    Fox News says he’s 85.


    EAST HARTFORD, CT -- A woman was arrested for driving the wrong way on Interstate 84 in East Hartford. Vanessa Alejos, 36, of Newington, was taken into custody on Wednesday night. State police said they charged her with construction zone violations, failing to comply with fingerprinting and interfering with an officer.

    She was held on a $10,000 bond and given a court date of Thursday at Rockville Superior Court.

    Now what do you think the difference was here?

    Also, this startling quote from another source: “Dorelus says troopers have already been dispatched to over 100 calls reporting a wrong-way driver on Connecticut highways in the first five-plus months of this year.” Holy crap, are CT drivers just that bad or is there a problem with how exit/wrong way ramps are marked or what? That seems like a lot to me.

  4. sonofrojblake says

    “what do you think the difference was here?”

    “The” difference? I can’t tell whether the snark is directed at the difference in age or gender (are you saying “old people, huh?” or “women drivers amirite?”)

    The elderly chap’s ethnicity has not been specified here, but I guess you could also mean that too given the current climate. (i. e. are you saying “white privilege!!!” racist police!!). It’s impossible to tell.

    I can tell what’s the same -- neither appears to have been sanctioned for anything to do with their driving. “construction zone violations, failing to comply with fingerprinting and interfering with an officer”… Not, I note, anything to do with DRIVING THE WRONG WAY DOWN A FREEWAY.

    You ask, baffled, why people keep doing this. Perhaps it’s because it’s not against the law? That’s baffling too, but the evidence of just these two cases suggests that as one hypothesis.

  5. machintelligence says

    I remember this as a joke I heard years ago:
    I woman calls her husband on his cell phone and warns him that the news says there is a car going the wrong way on the interstate.
    “A car?” he says. “There’s hundreds of them!”

  6. Ridana says

    7) @sonofrojblake: I asked what the difference was. I didn’t speculate when I asked, and I didn’t apply snark to the question. I just thought it was exceedingly odd that a driver who caused 3 accidents with even minor injuries, and no fatalities only by sheer luck, walked away clean, while another driver was arrested with a $10K bail, which seems awfully high for a traffic offense.

    We’re not given enough details about either case to know, but it sounded to me like it was retaliatory for her lack of compliance/submission rather than for any actual lawbreaking, perhaps compounded by her ethnicity, age, and/or gender, perhaps not.

  7. flex says

    Looking at this in isolation for moment, isn’t this really the outcome we would hope for?

    A person, likely unintentionally, ended up driving on the wrong side of the freeway. For all the danger that followed, there were only three minor injuries reported. The highway patrol was notified rapidly. The highway patrol took action first to alert the driver (which failed), and then to get ahead of the driver and force them to stop (by driving the correct way on the highway to prevent a more dangerous situation). The driver was, undoubtedly, questioned by the police and I suspect she will lose her license to drive. The sentencing authority will probably make a judgement whether she is likely to drive without a license.

    The minor injuries to others will heal. In a properly constructed insurance system the damage to the vehicles would be repaired without cost to the owners, and their insurance payments would not go up, but I can’t promise that would happen here.

    This could be a model of how to treat this sort of driver mistake, and it’s very lucky it wasn’t any worse. It could have been a lot worse and situations like this often are. But overall, isn’t this really how we would like this situation to end? No deaths, some minor injuries and property damage, and (likely) a reasonable judgement against the person making a huge, very dangerous, mistake.

    But not all situations end this way. And excluding the situations where on-coming drivers either don’t notice the car in the wrong lane and major injuries or deaths result, there are still situations where the highway patrol raise the stakes. Cases where the highway patrol directly chase the vehicle rather than radio ahead, thus creating a second car on the wrong side of the freeway and increased danger. Cases where the highway patrol leap to a conclusion that some greater crime must be taking place (high on drugs), and use more force than necessary. Cases where rather than using their discretion about filing criminal charges, the police throw the book at the offender in the mistaken belief that this will deter others or that the state must punish.

    And as mentioned above, a lot of cases where the ethnicity of the offending driver is a factor in deciding what the response and judgment should be. If the case above is the ideal we should be aiming for, all cases of where a black man makes the same mistake and gets jailed (or worse) is injustice.

    We would hope that anyone finding themselves driving the wrong way down a highway would stop immediately. But people do get frightened, and fright encourages a narrowness of thinking. (“Fear is the mind-killer.”) A very frightened person will find their mental options narrowing, sometimes to the point of “just keep going”. This is why thinking through stressful situations ahead of time, and training, are so important. An already thought-through response, or a highly-trained response will be one of the few options available in a stressful situation. The trained response to stress is also one of problem we have with police today in the USA. We train police that if a stressful situation develops, their survival depends on using their firearm. So they do. To apply that training generally to all law enforcement officers clearly is a mistake.

    To keep the highways running smoothly, without accidents, you don’t need officers with firearms. You need officers designated to perform that duty, and with the training and skills shown by the officers in CT to stop a situation which would probably have eventually killed someone. And you need judgement shown by prosecutors to evaluate what measures are necessary to prevent the person making the mistake from ever doing that again, not influenced by the color of their skin or the size of their wallets. That’s equal justice.

    @Ridana, #6,

    You quoted this:

    Dorelus says troopers have already been dispatched to over 100 calls reporting a wrong-way driver on Connecticut highways in the first five-plus months of this year.

    I would need more information on this to really judge how much of a problem this is. The first question I would ask is whether multiple calls may have reported a single incident. If there is an average of 2 calls for every wrong-way driver, that halves the number of incidences immediately. Ideally, no incident of people driving the wrong way should ever occur, but that’s not going to happen until the vehicles stop themselves from doing so on their own.

    As an aside, one of the causes of people driving on the wrong side of the freeway is that a standard cloverleaf has an exit and entrance to the freeway next to each other. The entrance is usually to the right of the exit, but I’ve seen them within a few feet of each other, and no matter how many signs there are saying “one-way” it’s easy to confuse the two. Again, the driver should rapidly notice and stop if they make a mistake, but this doesn’t always happen. There is an inherent design flaw in that otherwise elegant, symmetrical, design, which encourages this mistake. An asymmetrical design may be a better choice, even if it is not quite so pleasing to the eye.

  8. consciousness razor says

    As an aside, one of the causes of people driving on the wrong side of the freeway is that a standard cloverleaf has an exit and entrance to the freeway next to each other.

    Yeah, it can happen with others too. Not stack interchanges, because they don’t have access to the other ramps where traffic is going in the opposite direction.

    If it’s a boring old diamond interchange, which are more common than (partial/full) cloverleaf interchanges because they’re cheaper and take up less space and so forth, there will be a sign for the upcoming turn somewhere as you approach the bridge. That sign can be misinterpreted. It’s probably easiest to just draw a little picture for this:


    Suppose you’re going North from the bottom, and you want to turn West to the left. Before crossing the bridge (over or under) and using the on-ramp marked “2”, you first see a sign telling you that turn is ahead (typically with a left-pointing arrow and/or the word “left”). It’s near the off-ramp marked “1,” which is in fact to your left just as the sign seems to indicate. So you might incorrectly turn there, thinking you nearly missed it, which puts you in the Eastbound lane heading West.

  9. consciousness razor says

    Not stack interchanges, because they don’t have access to the other ramps where traffic is going in the opposite direction.

    Well, actually, you could make one wrong turn. With the same North-to-West trip as before but with a stack that I can’t easily draw using characters, you could conceivably take a right onto the off-ramp for the Southbound lane. (So it’s a right for the off-ramp, followed by a quick left on the ramp, which bends around to merge into the Westbound traffic, but before that you take another right to go North again, instead of going straight ahead like you’re supposed to go.)

    To pull that one off, you’d have to (1) not know that you intend to go left or West, (2) not be misdirected by a sign which seems to be telling you to do this, and/or (3) not realize that you’re immediately moving in the same direction you had you been just a moment ago even though you definitely wanted to change directions.

    It probably happens, but I bet it’s not nearly as often.

  10. says

    People are very, very loathe to give up what they see as their right to drive -- as we can see when we keep reading about things happening to drivers on suspended licenses -- but there needs to come a point where testing needs to happen maybe every five years until you’re 60, maybe 65, then every year after that.

    Once it’s pulled, the license can then be replaced with a photo ID that will be free to renew as long as it’s required to present one to vote.

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