Wrong Way Driving Becoming Increasingly Problematic in Central Florida
When drivers travel against traffic on roads — particularly on highways — they are putting their own lives and the lives of all other motorists at risk. New data suggest that wrong way driving is more prevalent than we may think, especially on the 109 miles of toll roads operated by the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority (OOCEA). The company is responding to growing concerns by implementing new safety measures following a ten-year study.
Conducted by University of Central Florida engineering professor Haitham Al-Deek between 2003 and 2012, the study yielded the following findings:
- Over the ten-year period, 22 accidents occurred due to wrong way driving on OOCEA roads, resulting in six fatalities and 33 injuries.
- Nearly 75 percent of the 400 people interviewed as part of the study reported having seen motorists drive against traffic. About 25 percent said they knew someone who had witnessed wrong way driving.
- According to Professor Al-Deek, a mere ten percent of wrong way driving incidents are reported to law enforcement.
- Most instances of wrong way driving occur around 2 am.
- Drivers who go the wrong way are most often under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other controlled substances.
- Driver confusion over roadways, ramps and other traffic configuration — particularly among older motorists — is another common factor in wrong way driving.
With funding from OOCEA, Professor Al-Deek is now overseeing installation of monitors that can sense vehicles traveling the wrong way, to be located at five on and off ramps across the 408 and the BeachLine Expressway. These monitors can send a signal to dispatch law enforcement and hopefully avoid serious car accidents before they occur. He further suggests installing more signage and flashing lights that would warn drivers when they are going in the wrong direction.