SAN DIEGO — The California Highway Patrol reported two wrong way crashes this week: one on Thursday with minor injuries and another Friday morning that resulted in a death.
The CHP and Caltrans have been putting out wrong-way driving tips, better signage, reflectors on highway ramps and more measures to try to mitigate the problem.
Jesse Matias, a CHP public information officer, said: “Make sure you’re paying attention, especially late at night.”
The CHP is currently investigating the deadly wrong way crash that shut down one side of state Route 52 for five hours Friday morning. At 2:40 a.m., a 23 year-old woman drove the wrong way on westbound SR-52, east of the 805 highway, officials said. She crashed head-on with another car driven by a 49-year-old El Cajon man.
The man died from his injuries, and the female driver had minor injuries. Officers arrested her for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, according to CHP.
“Do you know where the 23-year-old was coming from?” FOX 5 asked Matias.
“All that stuff is under investigation, as far as where she was travelling, where she was coming from, what her intentions were,” Matias answered.
In cases where crashes happen, it’s often not in the middle lanes.
“It’s not uncommon for wrong-way collisions, for a party travelling the wrong way, to perceive the fast lane as the slow lane or vice versa,” Matias added. “We do see it commonly that these wrong-way collisions are occurring in one of the far right or far left lanes.”
“We really want to get the word out there and make people aware,” said Erwin Gojuangco, district division chief for traffic operations with Caltrans.
The agency continues to install red reflectors on all San Diego and Imperial County exit ramps, which are only visible to wrong way drivers.
They’ve added bigger LED bordered signs, along with camera sensors that trigger additional lights to flash at the drivers as they drive down the ramp.
Caltrans said they have tested these measurers.
“Before the pilot program and then after the pilot program we had a reduction of 40% to 64%, so we are at least preventing that much more incidents from occurring,” Gojuangco said.
CHP said overall wrong-way crashes are a low percentage of crashes statewide, but explained why we might see them more in San Diego County.
“Especially down by the border, you’ll get someone who does not intend to go to Mexico. So they turn around and travel the wrong way. We have impaired drivers, medical conditions — these things happen,” Matias said.
CHP advises THAT to avoid wrong-way crashes, you can avoid driving in the fast lane at night. You can also look as far down the road as you can. Always call 911 if you see a wrong-way driver, or if you accidentally go the wrong way yourself.