TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - The next time you drive down the Howard Frankland Bridge, you might notice a few new cameras.
The Florida Department of Transportation’s wrong-way driver detection system is now up and running and transportation officials hope it will help save lives.
Beforehand, FDOT relied solely on 911 callers to track a wrong-way driver, and now this system will do it faster. The Bay Area will be the first area to test out the new technology.
Last fall, after two crashes, just two weeks apart, both involving wrong-way drivers on the Howard Frankland Bridge, FDOT announced plans to install wrong-way driver detection technology on that very bridge.
Six cameras are now installed and running.
“There are six zones, three in the southbound direction and three in the northbound direction,” said Kris Carson, a spokesperson for FDOT District 7.
Carson said green dots on a monitor at the traffic management center show where the cameras are positioned on the bridge. Once the system detects a car traveling the wrong way, the system alerts workers with an alarm.
“We know that it's actually working because we had a car broken down on the bridge the other day and a trooper pulled up to assist the driver and had to reverse to reposition his car. The alarms and sirens went off in this building because it detected a car going the wrong way even though it was in reverse for just a few seconds,” said Carson.
Once a wrong-way driver is detected on the road, FDOT will put up a message on its boards and immediately send Florida Highway Patrol to the driver’s location.
“If we can get a trooper out there quicker, we can notify police quicker and we can get that driver off the road,” said Carson.
FDOT said drunk driving causes most wrong way crashes, so transportation officials hope this tool will help prevent them.
“We believe this is going to save a life,” said Carson.
If the technology works well on the Howard Frankland, transportation officials plan to expand the program.