After having found the image below, I’m wondering whether there is a word that English speakers use to describe someone driving on the opposite side of a road.

A bit of searching pulled up geisterfahrer, which is a German word whose translation into English is at best unclear. In fact, according to Google Translate, geisterfahrer is rendered in English as ghost rider. However, I’m unable to find this two-word phrase in any dictionary I have consulted — and besides, I’m interested to find a single word.

Thus my question is, is there a word for someone who drives in the direction opposite the one prescribed for the lane they are driving in?

Note that I dislike, and will not accept, wrong-way rider, both because it is too far from the single-word concept and because it seems like a made-up phrase to me.

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    You mean besides Mr. Magoo? :-) – Kristina Lopez Sep 6 '13 at 18:01
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    Englishman? Australian? – JeffSahol Sep 6 '13 at 18:07
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    That would be a wrong-way driver, not a wrong-way rider. I don’t understand why having spaces in terms suddenly puts you off them. There is no sensible difference between cat gut and cat-gut and catgut, nor between a house call and a house-boy and a housekeeper. So just because the Germans don’t put a space between Geisterfahrer and we would do so between ghost rider means nothing: they are the same, which you can tell by comparing ghostship and ghost-light and ghost town. – tchrist Sep 6 '13 at 18:32
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    Yep. Wrong-way driver. If it's called anything else in typical conversation and writing, I would be surprised (US English). Geisterfahrer sounds like something to the effect of "dead man driving", which pretty much describes what a lot of them become. – Canis Lupus Sep 6 '13 at 19:00
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    Sinister, in its sense “left, on the left side” works for the picture :) – James Waldby - jwpat7 Sep 6 '13 at 19:00

You could call such a person a wrong-way-driver.

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The common way to say this is the motorist is driving against traffic. I doubt there is a single english word for the driver in this scenario.

One way streets sometimes have a contraflow lane for bicycle or bus traffic.

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  • Against traffic can just mean in the opposite direction of the heaviest flow of traffic. For example, if traffic going into a city is extremely heavy at 8am, someone leaving the city and going outward at that time would be going 'against traffic' but would not be in the oncoming lanes. – MarkTO Dec 24 '18 at 21:06

Or you could say facing oncoming traffic/cars

or confronted with oncoming vehicles

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You can call it as offender or wrongdoer.

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    Anyone that does anything wrong is an offender or wrongdoer. This doesn't address the central concern of the question--someone who drives in the wrong direction. – p.s.w.g Sep 6 '13 at 20:26
  • @p.s.w.g , if you drive in wrong direction, it is a wrong thing as per rules. – Sweet72 Sep 6 '13 at 20:36
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    You could also call someone that drives in the wrong direction a 'person'. The question is about a specific kind of wrongdoer. – p.s.w.g Sep 6 '13 at 20:38
  • @ p.s.w.g :I think comments is not a proper place to discuss about this. To discuss this, we can chat if you wish – Sweet72 Sep 6 '13 at 20:42
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    You can call the person (not it) as an offender/wrongdoer, but the OP wants a specific word for a person who's driving the wrong way. If you say the word, it should mean only that. Offender/wrongdoer is - as @p.s.w.g says - too general for the question. – mikhailcazi Sep 7 '13 at 12:11