Police said Beau Feighan saw that emergency services were responding to a life-threatening incident on the A24 at Dial Post on December 22.
Three people were seriously injured and the dual carriageway had been closed while police and paramedics provided urgent care, police added.
Sussex Police said that, rather than wait for the scene to be cleared safely, Feighan crossed the grass verge onto the opposing carriageway to drive past the incident.
He only narrowly avoided a second head on collision as he drove the wrong way on the 70mph limit dual carriageway, police added.
Feighan, 29, said his reason for risking another potentially fatal collision was that he was “late for work” and “didn’t want to sit behind the police”.
The electrician said because he was self-employed, he could not afford to wait, and said he “wasn’t going to sit in traffic for free”.
Police traced him as the registered keeper of the Citroen van and arrested him. When questioned by officers, he accepted his driving was dangerous.
Sussex Police said Feighan, of Ashcroft Road, Chessington, Surrey, was charged with dangerous driving and appeared before Crawley Magistrates’ Court on June 15 where he pleaded guilty to the charge.
He was disqualified from driving for two years, and told he would need to take an extended retest before he is allowed back behind the wheel, police added.
Sussex Police said the court ordered him to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, 15 rehabilitation activity requirement (RAR) sessions, and 19 sessions at the Thinking Skills Programme. He must also pay a £95 victim surcharge and £85 costs.
Roads Policing Unit (RPU) officer PC Christina Lane said: “We were already responding to a serious and potentially fatal road traffic collision on the A24.
“So Feighan’s decision to go onto the opposite carriageway was selfish and reckless.
“There was a high risk of him causing a serious injury or fatality to himself, another road user, the emergency responders, and to the existing casualties who we were looking after.
“Footage shows he was only a split second from causing another collision with an unsuspecting member of the public who was travelling in the opposite direction.
“We understand that there can be frustration with delays as we respond to incidents, but we ask the public to be patient while emergency services respond.
“Inconsiderate driving, such as that by Feighan, is one of the ‘fatal five’ causes of deaths and serious injuries on our roads. He is lucky not to have caused another tragedy.”
Sussex Police said three people who were injured in the collision are continuing to make their recoveries and the investigation into the collision continues.