By a "directional word", I mean those such as backward, forward, toward, etc. Words specifically indicative of direction of movement. Consider these sentences:
I walked toward the objective.
The car rolled slowly forward from the garage.
These sentences are clear and grammatically correct. However, I frequently see (and hear) sentences constructed like this:
The horse galloped towards the barn.
The unicyclist spun over backwards after an ill-considered flourish.
Is there a difference in meaning when these words take a plural ending? Is this another example of infuriatingly lazy English? Is it merely a stylistic choice?