At 1 am this morning, intoxicated Ronald Nelson drove his Range Rover onto the Dallas North Tollway near downtown going the wrong direction and crashed into a south-bound Infiniti SUV. Both drivers were hospitalized at Parkland, but neither has sustained critical injuries.
Trooper Lonnie Haschel, Department of Public Safety spokesman, informed The Dallas Morning News that Ronald Nelson will be facing charges of driving while intoxicated when he is released from the hospital. The Trooper also had reassuring news about the driver of the Infiniti’s injuries when he said, “both drivers were walking around after the wreck.”
Task Force to Prevent DUI Fatalities
This is not the first drunken wrong-way accident on the Dallas North Tollway. In fact, it’s became such a frequent event that a special North Texas Tollway Authority task force spent $165,00 last summer on researching and implementing changes that would keep drivers from entering the highway going the wrong way.
The most notable change was lowering some of the signs saying “Do Not Enter” or “Wrong Way” as well as adding flashing LED lights to select signs. The idea was that intoxicated drivers have a more limited field of vision and have a tendency to lower their focus. By lowering the signs form 7ft to 2ft, even heavily impaired drivers would be able to recognize their mistake in time.
More changes on the way?
The work is still not over. The lowered signs and other changes will be in effect for two years while experts collect enough information to evaluate whether the signs have been effective in preventing drunk drivers from causing dangerous, even fatal crashes.
What does this latest collision mean for the changes? It might be too soon to tell. There will be an additional 18 months of data collection before the task force will know for sure how effective the changes are.