At 1:30 am on March 30, Javish Rodriguez Rivera was traveling east on I-4 westbound in Orlando when he was involved in a collision with another car and a semi-truck. The Orlando Sentinel reports that, while everyone involved was wearing a seat belt, one driver was hospitalized for minor injuries and Rivera died in the hospital the following Monday.
Wrong-way driving is uncommon, but when it happens, it usually has similar results to this event. To meet this threat, the US Department of Transportation is working toward identifying and reducing wrong-way accidents.
Wrong Way Driving
The Federal Highway Administration defines a wrong-way accident as one “in which a vehicle traveling in a direction opposing the legal flow of traffic on a high-speed divided highway or access ramp collides with a vehicle traveling on the same roadway in the proper direction.”
This situation means that wrong-way accidents are generally head-on and at high speed, making them exceptionally severe. They account for 300-400 deaths per year. This is only about one percent of total traffic deaths, but wrong-way accidents have a higher chance of causing death or serious injury than other types of crashes.
Prevention and Response
Our own Florida department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has a safety campaign called Stay Right at Night. The goal of the program is to prevent wrong-way accidents by urging drivers to stay in the right-hand lane at periods when wrong-way driving is more likely. The idea here is that, if everyone is in the right-hand lane from their perspective, the cars going the wrong way will miss the ones going the correct way. The initiative also encourages drivers to call 911 immediately if they see a driver going the wrong way. It seeks to prevent wrong-way driving by urging drivers to stay alert and sober and to pay careful attention to all road signs.
ITS International reports that the US DOT is looking into proactive systems for identifying and preventing wrong-way driving. One of these involves a single box with a radar system and camera in it, which can detect vehicles traveling the wrong way and then capture it on video.
This system can also be paired with a lighting system designed to catch the attention of the driver and another system that would send an alert to traffic control who can quickly dispatch police as needed. Another system uses thermal imaging and flashing lights on ramps to catch the attention of drivers going the wrong way before they get onto the highway.
These systems show promise and we look forward to their testing and possible use to keep our highways safe. Ultimately, however, it is the responsibility of drivers to make safe decisions on the road and pay attention to traffic signs. The health and safety of everyone on the road can be compromised by one driver’s bad decisions. If you or a loved one have been the victim of an auto accident, contact us today to learn how we can help.