Two people died Saturday in a wrong-way collision on Interstate 80 in the Reno area that sent two others to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.
At 3:15 a.m., a Mazda pickup driven by a man with a male passenger traveled the wrong way in the eastbound lanes and struck a Mazda Protégé driven by a man with a female passenger, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol.
The driver of the pickup and the passenger in the car were pronounced dead. The other two were taken to Renown Hospital in Reno. No identities were released Saturday.
The wrong-way driver did not have a U.S. driver’s license, said Trooper Dave Gibson, who said alcohol was a factor in the crash just west of the Sparks Boulevard exit.
Gibson said the investigation was not expected to be concluded before Monday.
The accident is similar to a series of wrong-way collisions recently in the Sacramento area. Drivers traveling in the wrong direction on Sacramento-area freeways have crashed head-on into other vehicles four times this year – each time at night – taking 14 lives.
Alcohol was involved in at least two of those cases, officials said.
From 2011 to 2014, there have been 49 fatal wrong-way collisions on divided highways in California, killing 69 people, according to data from the California Highway Patrol.
There have been even more injury-only crashes caused by wrong-way drivers. CHP data show 237 more crashes in that time period that injured 346 people.
CHP officials say drivers on freeways who see a car headed in their direction should immediately pull as far to the right as possible and call 911.
Because wrong-way drivers typically drive in the fast lane, mistakenly believing it is the slow lane, it is a good idea to avoid the fast lane if possible when driving late at night, officials said.