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Details of Chicago wrong-way fatality mirror NTSB statistics

Catastrophic injuries and loss of life are common outcomes in wrong-way traffic accidents because vehicles frequently crash head-on at high speeds. Some drivers mistakenly enter a highway due to confusion or unfamiliarity with a ramp or road, but transportation officials say driver alcohol use contributes to the majority of wrong-way collisions.

The National Transportation Safety Board Alcohol estimates alcohol is a factor in 60 percent of wrong-direction crashes. Illinois state troopers believe alcohol was behind a recent fatal accident on the Eisenhower Expressway in Cook County.

The NTSB says prime times for wrong-way collisions are nights and weekends. The Chicago accident happened on a Saturday around 2 a.m., when a Dodge minivan headed westbound on the expressway's eastbound side.

The van smashed into a car, overturning it and killing two of three young women inside. The decedents included the 19-year-old driver and a 20-year-old passenger. A second passenger, who worked with the other victims at a Melrose Park restaurant, was injured and hospitalized. The survivor told police her friend tried to steer out of the collision, but both vehicles swerved in the same direction at the same time.

Two 20-year-old men were in the minivan. Both were injured in the fatal car accident, but reports did not state the extent of their injuries. Troopers indicated criminal charges were liked to be filed against the van driver.

Surviving victims and family members of loved ones lost in wrong-way collisions turn to criminal and civil courts to seek justice. A criminal conviction serves to punish a lawbreaker, while a civil action for personal injury or wrongful death works to compensate harmed by negligence.

Damages may be awarded for economic burdens caused by medical expenses and past or future wage losses. Non-economic damages include physical and emotional pain and suffering associated with an accident. In some cases, punitive damages are awarded as a punishment and deterrent.

Source:, "2 Killed in Wrong-Way Crash on Eisenhower Expressway" No author given, Sep. 07, 2013

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