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Wrong-way Driver Hits Guardrail, Loses Life

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for emergencyvehicle.jpegLate last week, a Gwinnett County driver lost his life after a seven-mile wrong way drive on I-85. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that early on Saturday morning reports began coming in on 911 that a vehicle was driving fast in the wrong direction on I-85. Just as the police were working on intercepting the vehicle, it moved to Ga 316 again going in the wrong way, east in the westbound lanes. Sadly, the driver was killed when his car hit two guardrails, split in half and ending the driver’s life. As a Gwinnett County injury lawyer, I can say that the only positive part of this story in my view is that no one else was injured or killed.

Several studies have been done in recent years on the way guardrails function in single vehicle accidents. Virginia Tech researchers have found that “from 2000-2005, the number of car occupants who were fatally injured in guardrail collisions declined by 31% from 251 to 171 deaths.” Although guardrail are intended to help keep drivers safe and fatalities have decreased, they can still be very dangerous in situations such as that in Gwinnett County.

And just yesterday, another guardrail incident occurred in downtown Atlanta. An SUV (Jeep Liberty) that was traveling on the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive bridge, crashed through the guardrail in the early evening and fell 50 feet. Miraculously the three people in the vehicle only suffered minor injuries. The accident apparently occurred after the driver experienced a medical emergency. The vehicle was damaged very badly, which is precisely the way it should be, because the people inside were protected and the vehicle took the impact and energy of the fall.

When vehicles are involved in an accident, there are kinetic forces that vary depending on the speed and mass of the vehicle and the speed and mass of the object or vehicle that the vehicle strikes. Crumple zones work because they are intended to take the forces involved and actually redistribute them before those forces reach the people in the vehicle. They essentially create a “buffer zone” around the vehicle and it takes the force while the people are better protected against these forces. The very first vehicle to have a crumple zone was the 1959 Mercedes Benz W111 Fintail. The engineer who invented the crumple zone has more than 2500 patents to his name and worked for most of his professional career at Daimler-Benz.

Sometimes after an accident, experts must piece together how the accident occurred and how the vehicle or vehicles responded, their speed, deceleration and other factors in the seconds involved in a crash situation. These experts can be very important in making sure that the accident is accurately reconstructed for the purposes of determining the facts and responsibility for the accident.


As a life-long Georgian, I am proud to serve the metro Atlanta region as a highly-rated injury and accident lawyer. Please contact me at any time for a free consultation regarding your accident or injury.

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