Channel 4 reports that 3 people were killed early Sunday morning as a result of a wrong-way crash on a highway in Tampa. According to Florida Highway Patrol, a Honda was traveling south in the northbound lanes of Interstate 275 when it collided head-on with a tractor trailer carrying oil products early Sunday. Sgt. Steve Gaskins says the truck’s driver was not injured and no fuel was spilled in the crash. It is too soon to say if drugs and alcohol were a factor in Sunday’s crash, as toxicology results could take weeks. According to FHP, Sunday’s crash is the fourth fatal wrong-way crash on I-275 since February.Gaskins said it is fortunate that the Honda did not hit a vehicle smaller than the tractor-trailer, as the number of fatalities could have been higher.
Wrong way collisions occur relatively infrequently, accounting for only about 3% of accidents on high-speed highways, but they are much more likely to result in fatal and serious injuries than are other types of highway accidents. The vast majority of wrong-way collisions on controlled-access highways are head-on events. Statistics from the National Transportation Safety Board has studies that show most of these types of accidents occur when people have been drinking, and the majority happen after midnight. Most of the drivers range in age from 20-38. But the NTSB also found a number of drivers older than 70 involved in these crashes, and alcohol was not a factor in them.
On average, about 360 lives are lost each year in about 260 fatal wrong way collisions.
In northeast Florida wrong-way crashes are not uncommon. FHP does not keep statistics on them, but Channel 4 records show there have been nine in the area since 2008. Most have been fatal. FHP said in northeast Florida, these accidents are somewhat different. People are not entering the interstate the wrong way. They do something else. “What we have seen in our area, the few occurrences that we had, is where the drivers are actually making a U-turn on the interstate for whatever reason, and they are traveling the opposite direction on our highways,” FHP Sgt. Dylan Bryan said.