Catching wrong way drivers goes high tech with new signs

By Bailey Myers, Reporter
Last Updated: Thursday, July 14, 2016, 11:12 PM EDT

New wrong way warning signs, equipped with special sensors, are going up all along highways in Central Florida.

  • UCF professor-designed Wrong Way signs
  • Meant to warn drivers, FHP
  • Going up at several exit ramps on major roads

In 2012, University of Central Florida Professor Haitham Al-Deek teamed up with the Expressway Authority to improve their current warning signs.

Dr. Al-Deek designed signs with sensors which can detect when someone has gotten onto the off-ramp at high-risk locations.

They determined which locations were high risk based on information from the Expressway Authority and the Florida Department of Transportation. The research including a variety of factors, including wrong way citations and traffic accidents.

Now, when someone is traveling in the wrong direction at the locations which have the signs, a light will flash and pictures of the vehicle heading the wrong way are sent to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Since implementation, 21 vehicles went the wrong way at on-ramps at State Road 408 at Kirkman, and at Hiawassee, as well as State Road 528 and State Road 520. All of those vehicles were warned with flashing lights, and successfully turned around before encountering oncoming traffic.

"It's been shown to be effective so far," Professor Al-Deek said. "We want to make the roadways safer."

The Expressway Authority was the first to install these signs, and already has plans for installing them at 29 more locations along their roadways. Florida's Turnpike officials are discussing installing the signs, as well.

However, the signs come with a hefty price tag, costing about $50,000 to $80,000 per ramp. We were told the Expressway Authority hopes to have all 29 new sites equipped with these new sensor signs by the end of 2017.

 Here are the locations with the new and improve wrong-way signs already installed:

  • SR 520 ramp to SR 528
  • Good Homes Ramp to SR 408
  • Hiawassee Ramp to SR 408
  • SB SR 417 off-ramp to University Blvd.
  • NB SR 429 off-ramp to Ocoee-Apopka Rd.
  • SB SR 429 off-ramp to Plant St.
  • WB SR 414 off-ramp to Keene Rd.