State troopers give advice on what to do if encountering wrong-way driver

WEST CARROLLTON — Investigators are still working to learn what caused a man to drive the wrong direction down the highway and crash into multiple vehicles over the weekend.

Robert C. Williams, 34, of Riverside was pronounced dead on the scene after troopers say he crossed over I-75 and struck four other vehicles within a matter of seconds when going the wrong direction.

>> Driver in deadly wrong-way crash on wrong side of I-75 for seconds before crash, troopers say

Troopers say accidents like these happen really quickly, but that two of the ways to protect you and your family involve your phone and a little bit of defensive driving.

“Slow down. Try to move out of the way if they’re coming at you. Like I said, these things happen very fast. So you probably won’t have a lot of time to get out of the way, but obviously try to avoid getting hit and make that phone call. 911′s the best call to make,” Lt. Geoffrey Freeman with the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.

The Ohio Department of Transportation says there have been 40 wrong-way crashes across the state in 2021.

In comparison, there were 36 this time last year and 41 in the same time period in 2019.

Statistically, wrong-way crashes are 40-time more deadly that other types of impacts because they often involve cars moving at highway speeds colliding head-on.

“So they are extremely dangerous. The good news is they are extremely rare as well. They’re only about .01 percent of crashes each year in the state of Ohio,” Matt Bruning, Press Secretary for ODOT said.

In an I-Team investigation in 2019, News Center 7 reported that ODOT has all kinds of signage requirements along on and off ramps around the state aimed at cutting back on these types of wrecks.

There are also camera and radar systems at ramps in Cleveland and Columbus, as well as along an entire stretch of I-71 from downtown Cincinnati through Warren County.

The detection system flashes LED lights around signs to get the wrong-way driver’s attention.

An alarm goes off at ODOT’s traffic center in Columbus showing live video of the driver so they can tell troopers.

The state cannot afford to put this technology on the more than five-thousand ramps across the state.

“We are looking at other areas of the state to deploy them. So Dayton is certainly on the list of places we’re looking this is all about reducing the risk of these types of crashes from happening,” Bruning said.

State troopers told News Center 7 it’ll be weeks before they know why Williams started going the wrong way on the highway.