Technology employed to combat wrong-way wrecks

It’s a nightmare scenario — a driver enters the interstate headed in the wrong direction at a high rate of speed and slams into oncoming traffic. Even though data shows that wrong-way collisions are decreasing here in both Miami-Dade and Broward, a recent wrong-way wreck on I-75 killed one and injured three others.

Statistics from the Florida Department of Transportation indicate that nearly half of the drivers involved in these types of accidents were impaired, a rate 16 times greater than all collisions in the state that involve drugs or alcohol.

Both younger drivers age 16 to 24 and those drivers over 65 are involved in the greatest number of wrong-way accidents, FDOT reports. The agency researched these lethal collisions for the four years between 2009 and 2013. They discovered 280 collisions on Florida highways that resulted in 75 fatalities and 400 injuries.

Their report indicates that the average wrong-way driver is typically in an urban region and driving while impaired either late at night or in the early morning hours on weekends. They usually are entering exit ramps to the highway.

The state is fighting back with high-tech safety tools to alert wrong-way drivers to this deadly situation. Six interchanges in Miami-Dade, as well as 10 ramps on the turnpike now have new high-tech signs installed to warn drivers before another collision occurs.

There are now big, rectangular red signs that flash “Wrong Way,” as well as sending out radar signals from either side of the sign. When radar detects cars headed in the wrong direction, LED lights flash red. The device then takes five photos of the vehicle and sends these photos to both the traffic management center and the Florida Highway Patrol dispatch.

Despite these safety features, if you are injured in a wreck with a wrong-way driver, you can turn to the Florida civil courts for justice.

Source: Miami Herald, “Road warriors look for a right way to prevent wrong-way wrecks,” Alex Harris, Jan. 19, 2016