Years ago, after a holiday gathering, my wife's grandmother left Rockford to return to her home in Elgin. A call came a short while later letting the family know that she'd had a "little problem with directions."

That little problem with directions found her traveling the wrong way in the wrong lane on I-90.

Luckily, no one was hurt, she didn't hit anyone or anything, and nothing hit her. If there was a casualty in this incident, it was her drivers license. Clearer heads prevailed, and she became a passenger, rather than a driver, for the rest of her days.

Looking over a new report from the AAA Foundation, I've learned that this sort of thing happens a lot more than I thought it did, and in many cases the ending is not nearly as happy as the one we experienced.

The AAA Foundation report says that between 2015 and 2018, wrong-way driving crashes caused 2,008 deaths, which averages out to about 500 per year in the United States. The U.S. averaged about 375 wrong-way fatalities per year between 2010 and 2014.

Here in Illinois, the AAA data says that there were 83 wrong-way driving collisions, resulting in 107 fatalities, between 2010 and 2018. That averages out to a little less than 12 fatal wrong-way crashes per year. If we were to look for the states with the highest amounts of wrong-way crashes and deaths caused by them, reports that the title goes to the Lone Star State:

Texas has seen the most deaths from wrong-way crashes, with an average of 67.7 per year. Florida had the next highest yearly average with 34.4.

Outside the District of Columbia, which didn't have any wrong-way crashes reported from 2010-2018, New Hampshire and Vermont tied for having the fewest with a 0.2 yearly average.

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