Before Friday’s tragic car accident, South Cobb High School teacher James Chapman was looking forward to a life of wedded bless.
Chapman was due to be married on the 4th of July in Rome, and had been on his way to New Orleans to celebrate his upcoming nuptials. He was driving with his friend Keith. Both had just finished the last day of school at South Cobb High School where Chapman taught Social Studies and coached a baseball team. Chapman’s car collided head-on with a car driven by 74-year-old Homer Phillips in the southbound lane of Interstate 59. Phillips seems to have been driving the wrong way in a pickup truck, when he crashed into Chapman’s pickup. Phillip’s vehicle then hit another car which rolled over. Both Phillips and Chapman were killed at the scene.
According to police, Phillips was not under the influence of alcohol. They don’t know yet why he was driving the wrong way.
Georgia law enforcement is constantly enforcing seatbelt use through their Click it or Ticket campaign, and Atlanta car accident lawyers have supported the campaign to keep Georgians safe. The deaths of these two men simply underscore the importance of that message. Neither of the victims was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. However, Chapman’s friend Keith as well as the driver of the third car that overturned, were buckled up safely, and survived the crash. Chapman’s body has not yet been brought back to Cobb County. Students and staff at the school are planning a fitting way to honor his memory.
Wrong way driving could be the result of drunk driving. Alcohol use can leave a person with more than just a feel good buzz – it could leave him confused and even disoriented, leading to fatal driving errors. Often wrong way driving is the result of a serious error. According to analysis by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, every year 350 people are killed in accidents traced to motorists driving in the opposite direction on the highway. According to studies, a majority of wrong way drivers avoid a car accident by simply correcting their mistake, turning around and traveling in the right direction.
Nationwide, there are few concerted efforts to prevent drunk driving, but individual states do take it on themselves to enhance signage and ramp design, and undertake road striping to prevent the problem. In Georgia, plenty of research has been done on wrong way driving dating back to the 1960’s. Georgia uses “Do not enter” and “Wrong Way” signs as warnings to motorists.