TAMPA, Fla. — There have been two serious crashes in the last few weeks involving wrong-way drivers on the Howard Frankland Bridge.
- DOT looking at new measures for Howard Frankland Bridge
- Two recent crashes involved wrong-way drivers
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After the most recent crash, Spectrum Bay News 9 viewer Avi Adler asked how this seems to keep happening.
"Since the closest entrance/exit is miles away on the Tampa side of the causeway, where did these drivers get on Interstate 275 and how did they make it to that area?" Adler asked.
It turns out in both Howard Frankland Bridge crashes, the driver started out going the right way, then for some reason did a U-turn into oncoming traffic.
So where they got on isn't relative. The key is getting the information to authorities as soon as possible.
Some measures are already in place, like sensors on exit ramps that when tripped will trigger a call to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Kris Carson with the Florida Department of Transportation said the DOT is ready to test new software developed with the Center for Urban Transportation Research at USF to help see when there's a problem.
"And we would deploy that on the Howard Frankland Bridge," Carson said. “The goal is, within a few weeks, along with some new cameras to see if we can stop the wrong-way drivers or get a trooper dispatched out quicker."
The software would work with the traffic cameras — not just capturing images but actually watching the flow of traffic.
If a car turns around or enters the wrong way, alarms would start going off.
"They will immediately notify our traffic management center, and then FHP also shares this building so a trooper can be sent out immediately, as well as those message boards that go across the interstate," Carson said. “A message will be put up immediately warning drivers of a wrong-way driver."
No system will make our interstates fool proof. But if this works as designed, when the next car goes the wrong way on the bridge, the warning will go out faster and that alone could save lives.