Raleigh police suspect alcohol played a role in a head-on collision that killed two drivers on I-440 early in the morning on December 22, 2015. Police have identified the drivers as 34-year-old Jesus Leon Galera and 21-year-old Alejandro Mendez Gonzalez. Police reported that a 911 caller alerted authorities that a car was headed the wrong way on the Beltline around 1:30 a.m. Galera was driving east against westbound traffic when his 2008 Ford sedan struck the 2002 Honda sedan Gonzalez was driving.
The police report cited alcohol impairment as a possible cause of the crash. North Carolina News Now reports that Jesus Leon Galera had been charged with DWI, Level 1 on February 7, 2003, was convicted on May 10, 2004, and received probation.
A Special Investigative Report in 2012 from the National Transportation Safety Board cited alcohol impairment as a major contributing factor to wrong-way collisions, along with drug use, older driver issues, interstate design and signage. Wrong-way collisions on divided highways are rare, accounting for only three percent of accidents on such roadways, but the vast majority of these crashes are severe, head-on events. The report points out that a Virginia study found the fatality rate for wrong-way highway collisions to be 27 times higher than that of other types of accidents. An NTSB study of data from 2004 to 2009 revealed that 60 percent of fatal crashes by wrong-way drivers showed indications of alcohol involvement: two percent had blood alcohol content, BAC, greater than zero, but less than the legal limit of 0.08 percent; 10 percent had BAC equal to or above the legal limit, but less than 0.15 percent; and 59 percent had BAC equal to or greater than 0.15 percent.
However, an often overlooked factor in wrong-way collisions is highway design. Wrong-way drivers such as Mr. Galera invariably enter a highway via an exit ramp. If the exit ramp Mr. Galera entered failed to meet the standards for the use of traffic signs, markings and traffic control devices, liability for the accident could extend to the state entity responsible for highway safety.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a drunk-driving accident anywhere in North Carolina, speak to an experienced injury attorney at Lanier Law Group, P.A. Call us today at (855) 757-4204 to schedule a free consultation!