There seems to be an epidemic of wrong way drivers lately. The Tampa Bay area has seen a spike in wrong way driving accidents over the last year, resulting in thirteen deaths since February. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Florida accounts for the third highest number of wrong way accidents in the nation. It leads one to wonder what exactly is going on. What is the issue behind all these recent incidents?
Impairment seems to be a major cause. In four of the accidents that occurred on Tampa Bay roads, toxicology reports indicated a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level of .17 or higher. Keep in mind the legal limit is .08. A person’s cognitive functions are negatively affected at BAC levels as low as .02, so you can imagine the effects on one’s judgment as they reach twice the legal limit. The decision to drive can be a deadly one.
Wrong way collisions are usually very serious due to the fact that two vehicles traveling at moderate to high speeds generally do not have enough time to brake or take any other evasive action to avoid a head-on collision. A crash of this magnitude creates significant impact forces upon the occupant compartments of both vehicles. Wrong way accidents are much more likely to result in serious or fatal injuries than any other type of accident. A study showed that 0.3 percent of highway accidents result in fatalities compared to 22 percent of wrong way crashes.
Law enforcement is stepping up DUI patrols and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) is working on modifications to signage as well as engineering improvements. While signage is being an important thing, people can click here to learn more about our printing franchise opportunities. FDOT plans to install radar beacon systems which will help detect wrong way drivers and warn other drivers of danger nearby with message boards. The systems will also alert the Florida Highway Patrol through capturing an image of the car. Further improvements will include boosting the signs in and around entrance ramps and intersections, as well as having vehicle manufacturers include alerts in GPS devices which inform drivers when they enter a road in the wrong direction.
Below are some tips to keep you from potentially becoming involved in a wrong way driving accident:
- If you know you will be out for the evening and drinking will be involved, plan ahead. Have a designated driver or a taxi/car service available to take you home.
- Be responsible and aware of what’s going on around you. If someone you are with is drinking, do not let them get behind the wheel.
- Pay close attention to road signs. Often wrong way driving can be from making a simple U-turn and not realizing you are turning onto a one-way street. Check and check again before entering an interstate ramp, particularly at night when it is more difficult to see.
What should you do if you see a wrong way driver?
- Contact 911 immediately. Alert them to the location of the vehicle and provide any description possible. For reporting wrong way drivers in Tampa, the Florida Highway Patrol asks that you call *FHP (*347) to alert them of the impaired driver.
- Try to stay to the right of the road and slow down.
- Pull off to the shoulder as fast as you can and stop in a safe position, far enough off from the highway.
If you are charged with any traffic infraction or criminal offenses including DUI, Reckless Driving, and Fleeing and Eluding because of a wrong way driving incident, we can help. If you are injured by a wrong way driver, or know someone who was, don’t try to navigate the process by yourself. Contact the attorneys at McIntyre Thanasides today for a free initial consultation, and they will be able to assist you with any of these situations.