Over the last few years, Florida has seen an alarming spike in the number of devastating wrong-way crashes on highway on and off ramps. Now, new measures are being taken to help curtail the occurrence of these collisions.
According to the Tampa Tribune, efforts to stop these accidents began in May of last year with the placement of car-sized pavement markings and other signage to alert drivers that they are traveling the wrong way. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), however, has since teamed up with the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research to study the effectiveness of more sophisticated efforts: systems of sensors, cameras, and flashing lights that detect when drivers are traveling the wrong way.
These surveillance systems—which are solar powered—emit rapidly flashing red lights at drivers when they detect a vehicle traveling the wrong way on an on or off ramp. Researchers from the University of South Florida will then monitor how effective the placement of the sensors are, if they need to be adjusted, and how they are affecting the occurrence of collisions overall compared to existing data.
An Alarming Rate of Collisions
According to the Tribune's report, the counties of Hillsborough, Hernando, Pasco, and Pinellas experienced 19 wrong-way crashes from 2010 to 2013. In 2014, the number jumped to 12 in a single year. Even in the first seven months of 2015, there were 14 of these crashes. Officials have stated, however, that there has been a dramatic decline in the last few months, indicating that a combination of different measures has been effective.
Why have there been so many wrong-way crashes? According to reports, drugs and alcohol appear to be a major contributing factor and drunk driving is cited as the cause in a majority of these cases. The prevalence of this driver behavior adds a new wrinkle to the sensor system research-- will the flashing lights be enough to alert drivers who are already inhibited enough to be driving the wrong way? "There’s only so much that law enforcement can do; there’s only so much FDOT can do," Sgt. Steve Gaskins, spokesman of the Florida Highway Patrol said. "It comes down to driver decisions."
If you or a loved one has been harmed due to the reckless actions of a motorist, then we invite you to contact us at Smith & Stallworth, Attorneys at Law. Our dedicated and proven Tampa personal injury lawyers have more than two decades of combined legal experience. Over that time, they have helped countless injury victims and their loved ones recover the relief and dignity they deserve.
Get a committed advocate by your side during this trying time. Contact us today to request a case evaluation.