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More wrong-way detection systems on the way in the Tampa Bay area

Posted at 3:27 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 07:45:32-05

TAMPA, Fla. — They happen year after year from I-75 to the Howard Frankland Bridge. Many times, they end with people getting killed.

The latest wrong-way crash took the life of Tampa Police officer Jesse Madsen.

Investigators say most of the cases involve drunk drivers.

Since 2014, the Florida Department of Transportation has installed wrong-way detection systems all around the Tampa Bay area.

They include radar detection that goes off if someone gets on the interstate the wrong way. The radar detection also sets off flashing lights and alerts the Florida Highway Patrol.

“The goal is to have pretty much everything covered on I-275 north of I-4. And we prioritize these ramps based on their geometric; if they are possibly confusing to motorists, by crash data that we have, if they are near a lot of bars and restaurants, and entertainment venues where we know there could be some drunk driving arrests," said FDOT spokesperson Kris Carson.

The wrong-way crashes don’t just happen on the interstate, and FDOT says they have safety measures on other roads too.

“We are adding additional pavement markings, more signage. We are looking at businesses where people are coming out of driveways and medians to make sure there is no confusion," said Carson.

FDOT says they have a project starting in a month that will have more safety measures added to several more exits from Fowler Avenue all the way to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

They’ll have even more locations coming in 2022.

“We are doing everything we can to protect all motorists out there and especially our law enforcement partners, they are huge partners. Today was a huge tragedy," said Carson.

FDOT says the warning system is working and there are many wrong-way crashes that are avoided because people immediately turnaround when they realize their mistake.

But the choice to drive drunk is something all this technology can’t stop.