DORAL, Fla. – Florida Highway Patrol Maj. Roger Reyes reported on Thursday that there were more than 3,850 wrong-way crashes in Florida — including more than 1,900 with injuries and nearly 130 with deaths.
Reyes said head-on collisions are some of the most dangerous and deadly. FHP troopers were heartbroken when five teenagers died in a wrong-way crash on the Palmetto Expressway in August.
“I encourage my family and friends when you’re traveling highways at night to stay in the right lanes and it also gives you an avenue for escape if you do happen to see a vehicle coming at you,” Reyes said.
FHP troopers hope that a new system with a detection and alert platform will soon start to help save lives. In April, the Florida Department of Transportation will start with 11 ramps in Miami-Dade.
“Right now we have ‘Do Not Enter,’ ‘Wrong Way Driving’ dual-posted mounted signs on the side of the ramp,” Omar Meitin, a traffic operations engineer for FDOT, said adding the new signs have LED lights.
“As soon as a vehicle gets, starts approaching, there’s a detector, starts to flash the LED lights and it’s supposed to alert the driver, ‘Hey! You’re going the wrong way!’ time to autocorrect.”
Researchers hope that about 80% of wrong-way drivers will stop after the censor’s first alert, according to Meitin. The new FDOT systems will also alert FHP and the public.
“We put messages on the dynamic message boards that are on the highway advising motorists to be on the lookout for someone driving the wrong way,” Meitin said.
The construction needed to install the systems will begin next month and is expected to go through the fall, according to Meitin.