Imagine that you’re driving at night. You see headlights coming over the hill ahead of you, but you assume they’re just in the oncoming lane. You turn your brights down so as not to blind that driver.
Then they come over the hill at a high rate of speed, and you see that they’re actually in your lane. They’re coming straight for you. You don’t have time to think about whether they’re distracted, under the influence or just driving recklessly. All you have time to do is react. Which way do you swerve?
For many people, instinct tells them to swerve left. The oncoming lane is now open, and they know they can drive into it to avoid a crash, all without going off of the road.
That instinct is wrong, though. You should swerve to the right. If you have to drive onto the shoulder to avoid the crash, that’s safer than swerving left.
The issue with going left is that the other driver may not have noticed their mistake — if they’re texting, for instance. If they look up and see what they’ve done, their instinct is to swerve the same way. When that happens, they could hit you head-on in their lane. Plus, even if they don’t, you can’t know if someone else is about to drive over that hill. You don’t want to swerve into the oncoming lanes to avoid one crash, just to cause another one.
Wrong-way accidents are frightening and hard to avoid. If you get injured when a careless or distracted driver hits your car, be sure you know if you have a right to compensation.