The Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority has taken a stance against wrong-way driving and hopes to end the issue on major toll roads. By investing in a study that will show the frequency of wrong-way driving instances, the authority will use the data collected to devise a plan to prevent its continuance. Haitham Al-Deek, an engineering professor at the University of Central Florida, has been hired to study where, when, and why these wrong-way driving occurrences are taking place.
According to Orlando Sentinel, the authority will spend $135,000 on Al-Deek’s study, and an additional $130,000 making safety improvements based on his findings. These improvements will include installing monitors that alert local authorities when a driver is going the wrong way, in hopes that local law enforcement will then have the chance to stop fatal accidents before they occur. The expressway authority also plans on increasing signs and signals informing drivers they are driving the wrong way, including flashing markers and lights.
The issue of wrong-way driving, however, is not just a problem in Central Florida. This category of car accidents is occurring all throughout the country, and continues to be a national concern. Just last month, a wrong-way driving accident took the lives of four University of South Florida students when a drunk driver, headed the wrong way, crashed his SUV into the oncoming vehicle.
According to WFLA, NBC’s local Tampa news station, the man driving the SUV proceeded in the wrong direction for at least 12 miles before the accident claimed his life as well as the oncoming passengers. Just a week following this tragedy, a Southern California woman was charged with six counts of murder after she drove her car the wrong way on a Los Angeles freeway, killing six oncoming passengers.
Weeks later, a Washington mother was driving her son and nephew to a church sleepover one Friday afternoon, when an 84-year-old man crashed into them with his oncoming vehicle, taking the life of her 6-year-old nephew, and leaving her and her 10-year-old son in critical condition.
The Orange County Expressway Authority is taking the issue of wrong-way driving very seriously and hopes the measures being taken will significantly decrease these fatalities. The chairman of the expressway authority indicates his concern over this national dilemma by stating that if this investment will save just one life, then it was money well spent.