Lately, South Florida has experienced an excessive number of collisions involving drivers going the wrong way on highways. The disturbing incidents lead some to ask what can be done to put a stop to these nonsensical accidents.
One of the worst occurred at the beginning of January and involved Alexandra Lefler, a 23-year-old woman who was driving southbound on the northbound lanes of I-95 when she collided with an oncoming vehicle, killing herself and four other people who were driving home from the airport. Her reason for heading the wrong way is unclear. She was just leaving work when she drove onto the wrong ramp. A December wrong-way collision involved 24-year-old Franklin Chavez, who killed Carmen Criales while traveling in the wrong direction on I-95 in Miami. In 2013, Marisa Catronio was driving on the Sawgrass Expressway with her best friend when she was hit head-on by a drunk driver. Both Catronio and her friend were killed.
Miami Fire Rescue Captain Faye Davis claimed that it seems as though head-on collisions like this are occurring every few weeks, and she is not far off from the truth. Between 2009 and 2013, 75 people were killed in Florida due to people driving the wrong way on highways and expressways. Out of a total of 280 wrong-way collisions, 60 took place in Miami-Dade County and caused 10 fatalities.
Most of these accidents happen after midnight on the weekends, but fewer than half of them are connected with drug or alcohol use. However, alcohol and drugs are not involved in other highway collisions in Florida nearly as much. Dark roads may also contribute to wrong-way collisions.
The Florida Department of Transportation is trying to determine whether devices that automatically detect when cars are driving the wrong way or illuminated warning signs will help prevent these crashes from happening. Catronio’s family members are also trying to convince lawmakers to make changes to entrance and exit ramps. Davis feels as though authorities should also consider installing more dramatic methods of preventing drivers from heading up an exit ramp, such as adding spike strips to roadways.