In fall of 2018, the unthinkable happened when two crashes occurred within two weeks of each other on the Howard Frankland Bridge — both involving wrong–way drivers. Sadly, both accidents ended in critical injuries and one fatality.
In 2019, according to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), there have been seven wrong-way crashes in Tampa Bay. Additionally, there have been multiple arrests of wrong-way drivers in Hillsborough County alone.
Last year, the Tampa Bay area had 17 wrong-way car crashes. Hillsborough County even topped the list of the most arrests of wrong-way drivers in 2018, with 88 people taken into custody.
To help prevent further injuries and save lives, Tampa is taking action. Currently, FDOT is testing the new system to prevent wrong-way car collisions.
Immediately following the string of tragic accidents in 2018, officials sought ways to save lives and prevent wrong-way accidents from occurring. This resulted in a new state-of-the-art wrong-way detection system installed on the Howard Frankland Bridge.
During your next drive on the Howard Frankland, you may notice a few new cameras. There are three cameras northbound, three southbound, all equipped with software that can immediately detect wrong-way drivers.
When triggered by a wrong-way driver, an alarm sounds at the state’s DOT operations center. Within seconds, the Florida Highway Patrol is alerted to the driver’s location. These alerts allow them to be on the scene sooner than another driver calling 911.
Other prevention plans include warning notifications to other drivers that will be posted on billboards and freeway signboards stating, “Wrong-way driver ahead. Exit freeway.”
Within seconds, FDOT can change electronic message boards to let other drivers know to be on the lookout for wrong-way drivers.
The Tampa Bay area is the first in Florida to test out the new technology. If the alert system works well on the Howard Frankland Bridge, FDOT plans to expand the program elsewhere in the state. Luckily, transportation officials say so far, the wrong-way driver alerts are working well.
No driver wants to see headlights coming right at them thanks to a wrong way driver. But as we explained, it happens far too often on Tampa Bay’s roads.
FDOT officials want to remind drivers to make good decisions while driving. Many of these wrong-way accidents occur when people drink and drive. Safety starts with you; don’t drink and drive. Driving under the influence is extremely dangerous and can ruin lives.
“FDOT can always spend a lot of money on software and signage, and FHP is always out in the vicinity of this bridge, but we have to ask for the public’s responsibility to stop drinking and driving. That’s what 99% of these crashes are.” Kris Carson, FDOT spokesperson
If you or a loved one has been injured in a wrong-way car accident, it is critical to immediately contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options. Our Tampa personal injury law firm proudly represents individuals injured as a result of another’s negligence.
At Mickey Keenan P.A. your fight is our fight, and we will always represent your bests interests. Contact our experienced team of aggressive personal injury accident lawyers today for a free, no obligation consultation.
Watch this segment from Fox 13 to learn more about this important safety measure for Tampa drivers.