What to do if confronted by wrong-way driver on Valley highway

Posted at 4:47 PM, Jun 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-02 13:07:09-04

It's late at night and you are driving on Interstate 17, passing a slow truck, when you see headlights coming toward you. What would you do?

So far in 2017, the Valley has seen 16 wrong-way crashes, including a deadly incident on I-17 Thursday morning. Use the map below to track wrong-way incidents on local freeways so far this year.

ABC15 teamed up with DrivingMBA in Scottsdale to get tips that could save your life if you run into a wrong-way driver on the road.

"The most important thing is to stay focused on driving and pay attention to what's going on in front of you, because if you don't see it early enough, you won't have an opportunity to react and get out of the way," said Maria Wojtczak, DrivingMBA's managing director.

Your first instinct to avoid a wrong-way crash may be your biggest mistake.

"Our immediate reaction is to put our foot on the break to stop the action, but that's the absolute wrong thing to do," Wojtczak said.

Driving instructors say steer, don't stop.

Police say wrong way drivers typically use the left-most lane.
"One of the strategies is also not to be in the HOV lane, particularly in the wee hours of the morning," Wojtczak said. "You want to be in the center or right lane so you can move either way."
Driving experts say steer away from the oncoming car, usually to the right lane or shoulder, and they say it's better to bump a driver to the side of you than smash into a car coming straight at you.

"You need to see it, make a decision, and move immediately," Wojtczak said.