TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Hillsborough County officials have decided to speed up the planned installation of wrong-way detection, just days after a 32-year-old woman was killed while going the wrong way on Interstate 275.
During a Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting this week, Hillsborough County Commissioners and Florida Department of Transportation District 7 Secretary David Gywnn discussed the importance of the new technology in a community plagued by wrong-way fatalities.
“A motorist went the wrong way on the southbound exit ramp at Dale Mabry,” said Gywnn. “It is not currently instrumented with the wrong-way detections but what we’ve done is we’ve tried to prioritize by locations that have had documented crashes.”
The technology will be implemented at the Dale Mabry interchange this coming spring.
“It wasn’t originally in our package but we’re going to find the money to do that interchange as well,” Gywnn said.
A 2015 study by the Florida Department of Safety and Motor Vehicles found thousands of wrong-way crashes occurred in Florida, with Hillsborough County containing the fourth-highest number of wrong-way collisions.
Of those, 280 occurred on Florida’s freeways and expressways over a five-year period. Nearly 14% of them occurred in District 7 which includes Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties.
In total, 10 locations in the area will have the new technology.
“We don’t know that it will necessarily prevent a crash,” Gwynn said. “We’re hoping that in the future what we’ll be able to do is to detect a person coming in the wrong way very early and then get message boards out to warn people.”