By CBSBoston.com Staff

BOSTON (CBS) — Wrong-way crashes are a serious issue in Massachusetts and the problem is only getting worse, according to AAA. The agency said deadly wrong-way crashes in the state on divided highways have risen by more than double the national rate in recent years.

The United States averaged 500 deaths a year between 2015 and 2018 from wrong-way driving crashes, AAA said, a 34% increase from the average of 375 deaths a year between 2010 to 2014. Massachusetts saw the number of deaths rise from 19 to 27 on average over the same period, which is an increase of 78%.

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MassDOT crash data shows 150 people have died and over 4,500 have been hurt in wrong-way crashes since 2010 in Massachusetts. The state has seen a total of more than 8,200 wrong-way crashes since then.

“Wrong-way crashes on divided highways are often fatal as they are typically head-on collisions,” said AAA Northeast’s Mary Maguire in a statement. “And unfortunately, as the numbers show, fatalities from these crashes are on the rise.”

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State Police said one person died after a wrong-way crash on I-93 (WBZ-TV)

Worcester has had the most wrong-way crashes since 2010 with 366, followed by Springfield at 315 and Boston at 265.

Alcohol impairment is the most significant factor in wrong-way crashes; the odds are also increased by old age and driving alone, AAA said.

MassDOT is planning to test a wrong-way driver highway alert system this summer. When a driver enters the wrong way on a ramp, a radar system triggers warning lights along the ramp. The idea is to get drivers to correct their mistake before they reach the highway.

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CBSBoston.com Staff