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  • Writer's pictureJames S. Curtis

Tragic Death of Heroic Tampa Officer Reminder that Tampa One of Worst Areas for Wrong-Way Crashes

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

During the early morning hours of March 9, 2021, Tampa Police Officer Jesse Madsen took the most heroic step possible to save the lives of others when he veered his patrol car into the path of an oncoming driver who had entered I-275 driving the wrong way. As a result of the crash, Officer Madsen was killed, leaving behind his wife and three young children. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

The presence of a wrong way driver on the roadways of the Tampa Bay area is unfortunately becoming somewhat of a common occurrence over the past few years. In fact, according to the Florida Department of Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2015 three Tampa Bay counties ranked in the top 10 list of most wrong-way driving crashes in the State, those counties being Hillsborough County (4), Pinellas County (6), and Pasco County (8). According to the same study, of the 1,490 total wrong-way crashes that year, 96 of them resulted in fatalities, most being the result of a head-on collision.

What are the Common Causes of Wrong-Way Crashes

While most wrong-way crashes occur due to human error, as when someone simply makes a wrong turn, there are some common causes that can be addressed. Here are a few:

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), 69% of fatal wrong-way crashes involve alcohol. That is a staggering percentage, and yet another reminder of the dangers of drinking of driving.


As you age, your abilities to drive and your reaction time will (at least for most) naturally diminish. In addition, most people as they age will also suffer diminished eyesight, and this can be accentuated while driving at night, making it much more difficult to see and appreciate roadway signs.

Nighttime Driving

According to the NTSB, 78% of wrong-way crashes happen at night. This is largely due to poor lighting, lack of visible signage, and the lack of reflective or visible markings on the roadway.

What Steps can I Take to Avoid Being Involved in a Wrong-Way Crash?

Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles recommends that the following safety tips be followed to avoid wrong way driving crashes:

FLHSMV offers the following safety tips for motorists to avoid wrong way driving crashes:

  • Stay Right at Night to avoid crashes with wrong way drivers.

  • Call 911 immediately to report wrong way drivers. If you see a wrong way driver approaching, immediately reduce your speed and pull off the roadway.

  • Stay alert – do not drive distracted. Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Learn and obey all traffic signs. If you drive past a wrong way sign, turn around immediately. When you see a posted red sign, think: “Stop.” “Do Not Enter.” “Wrong Way.”

Let SouthShore Injury Attorneys Fight for You

If you or a loved one has been injured by a driver going the wrong way, it is important that you seek qualified legal representation. At SouthShore Injury Attorneys, we represent personal injury victims in the SouthShore and Tampa Bay area and throughout the state of Florida. Our attorneys are always available for a free consultation to discuss your personal injury needs.

Free Information

If you have questions about your Florida accident case, you can download our Free Reports:

which are available at our website, or you can click the link provided. You can also contact us at (813) 419-3866 to talk directly to a Ruskin personal injury attorney now.

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