Safety Improvements Meant to Prevent Wrong-Way Crashes in Florida – NBC 6 South Florida

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Transportation officials are trying to make things right with a Wrong Way Driving Initiative Program. 

“In most wrong-way crashes, vehicles are hit head-on, resulting in 81% of wrong-way driving fatalities,” said Major Roger Reyes with Florida Highway Patrol’s Troop E. 

On Thursday, The Florida Department of Transportation and FHP announced the new safety improvements underway on over 500 off-ramps across the state. 

The updates include new reflective signs with blinking LED lights, enhanced pavement markings, resurfacing off ramps, and a radar detection system that allows FDOT to look at their cameras and streamline their response. 

“As soon as a vehicle starts approaching, there is a detector and it starts to flash LED lights. It’s supposed to alert the driver, hey, you’re going the wrong way, time to autocorrect,” said Omar Meitin, FDOT’s District 6 Traffic Operations Engineer. “If they continue, then the system is triggered, sending an alert to the traffic management center. We then notify FHP and we put messages on electronic message boards on the highway advising motorists to be on the lookout for someone driving the wrong way.”

Wrong-way accidents are infrequent, but the collisions are often catastrophic. According to FHP, there was a total of 3,854 wrong-way crashes in Florida last year and 128 were fatal. 

NBC 6 reported on at least five crashes involving wrong-way drivers between 2022 and this year. In a high-profile case from August of 2022, five teens were killed after investigators say a corrections officer drove the opposite way on the Palmetto Expressway. 

Funeral services were held Thursday for the victims who were killed in a wrong-way crash on the Palmetto Expressway over the weekend. NBC 6’s Ryan Nelson reports

When these collisions happen, the speed of two vehicles makes for a bad combination. 

“If a vehicle is traveling at 70 mph going northbound and another vehicle is traveling at 70 mph southbound, that’s a 140 mph impact head-on into each other,” Reyes said.

With the current wrong-way signs, about 80% of the time it will cause a driver to turn around. Officials hope the new signs with LED lights will improve those odds. 

In Miami-Dade, they’re in phase one of the program, focusing on 11 of the 95 targeted exit ramps in the county. 

Currently, the added signs can be found near Bird Road and the Palmetto Expressway and I-95 near 95th Street. The estimated construction cost is $2.6 million. 

If you encounter a wrong-way driver, troopers ask that you call 911 and get off the road. As a safety tip, they also suggest drivers travel in the right lanes while driving late at night or early in the morning, to avoid any potential wrong-way drivers. 

More information on the initiative can be found here.

Safety Improvements Meant to Prevent Wrong-Way Crashes in Florida – NBC 6 South Florida

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