“Wrong-way drivers” continue to be a Chicago-area traffic safety hazard, primarily on expressways and toll roads. As seen in the many accidents involving “wrong-way drivers” (many of which are summarized on this site in the “wrong-way driver accidents” category) many of these accidents result in one or more fatalities. Most of the drivers who are driving in the wrong direction are doing so while intoxicated on alcohol and/or drugs.
There have been many efforts made to reduce the number of these “wrong-way drivers.” Some of the efforts have included increased police enforcement, as well as placing large red signs on expressway ramps alerting drivers if they are driving in the wrong direction. Various technologies are also being investigated.
There is proposed legislation that would increase penalties faced by “wrong-way drivers,” as many believe that such drivers are not being sufficiently penalized for their actions. As well, increased penalties could serve as an (increased) deterrent to those who may be inclined to drive in the wrong direction.
This proposed legislation is discussed in the March 2, 2017 NBC Chicago investigative segment (article and video) titled “New Legislation Would Toughen Penalties For Impaired Wrong-Way Drivers.” Two excerpts from the article:
The sight of a vehicle speeding directly toward you on the highway can lead to a split-second decision that may result in life or death. In fact, an NBC 5 Investigates analysis of state records in 2015 revealed more than 50 people have been killed and nearly 300 have been injured by wrong-way drivers in Illinois since 2005.
“It would effectively make driving the wrong way down a one way street an aggravating factor in a DUI case,” said State Rep. Mke Zalewski of Riverside.
Zalewski is sponsoring House Bill 303, which has been approved by the state house. Currently, a judge cannot take wrong-way driving into consideration during sentencing. However, the proposed law would allow judges to add additional prison time for individuals convicted of aggravated DUI, where wrong-way driving was involved.
The article also points out that additional fatalities and injuries due to “wrong-way” drive have occurred in 2016.
Additional details regarding this bill can be seen in a variety of media sources, including the NBC Chicago segment mentioned above.