Innovative traffic safety research from Florida State University, incorporating a fascinating mix of engineering and psychology, is being deployed on highways to save lives by targeting a deadly problem: wrong-way driving crashes. The statistics are alarming. Nationwide, wrong-way crashes kill about 350 people a year and injure thousands more, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Dr. Walter Boot, associate professor in the FSU Department of Psychology and an expert on cognition and perception, has compiled two wrong-way driving reports for the Florida Department of Transportation. The research identifies "smarter" signs and pavement markers equipped with advanced technology that can improve safety. Boot's recommendations will help shape future countermeasures for wrong-way driving. The Florida Department of Transportation is currently testing those and other recommendations on the most effective safety measures.
"This is a no-brainer," Boot said. "We need to develop, test and install more visible countermeasures against wrong-way driving. We tested new technology-based, radar-triggered road alerts to determine which worked best. The evidence we collected suggested these detection-triggered countermeasures will be more effective than traditional wrong-way countermeasures."
He started collecting that evidence as part of a contract with the state Department of Transportation following an unusual series of deadly wrong-way crashes in the Tampa Bay region in 2014. One in particular, a horrific crash on Interstate 275, added urgency to the search for more effective countermeasures.