Mitch Perry Report 9.23.14: Only technology can ultimately prevent alcohol-fueled wrong-way crashes

Forget ISIS or Ebola. The biggest existential crisis for a Tampa Bay area citizen these days is driving on I-75 or I-275 after midnight.

The Times' Zachary T. Simpson and Caitlin Johnston report this morning on the latest wrong-way crash on an interstate in the Tampa Bay area, bringing to 11 the number of people killed so far this year driving the wrong way.

What the hell is going on? One thing is near certain: the motorists who have been doing this have been seriously, seriously impaired by alcohol. Which is why if you're looking for a governmental solution to this problem, we may be out of luck, and have to wait for new technologies such as built-in blood alcohol detectors — but there may be many more tragedies before such technology is available in our cars and trucks.

FDOT officials are talking about measures they can take, because one of their main focuses is on public safety. But if you analyze what's going on here, you realize that short of putting tire spikes on interstate entrances that could blow out a tire, there's very little they can do for those who will ignore such warnings because they're three sheets to the wind.

If you do a little research, you learn that this is hardly a phenomenon specific to our area; it's only the number of incidents within the past year that has made this such a big story. The curious question is why are these incidents happening in such a cluster right now? That's very hard to figure out, isn't it?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continues to work with a variety of auto manufacturers on a program called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, which is developing alcohol-detection technologies to prevent vehicles from being driven when a driver’s blood alcohol concentration exceeds the legal limit of 0.08 percent. But it's not nearly ready to be implemented.

In other news..

If you haven't noticed, David Jolly is really into being a Congressman. He's so into it, he's bummed he doesn't get more opportunities to actually do his job, which is why he might be stepping on some toes of his GOP colleagues by writing a letter demanding that the House stay in session, from 8 am to 6 PM, Monday thru Friday

The most recent reports regarding the economic situation in the Tampa Bay area have been a bit disappointing. Trying to spin that for political gain, the Charlie Crist camp had Congresswoman Kathy Castor hold a conference call yesterday in which she blamed Rick Scott for the region's ills.

And while some communities will do whatever it takes to stop Walmart from coming to their neighborhood, there was no organized opposition to the retail giant making a new home on East Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa, where the official groundbreaking ceremony was held in an area that is hungry for the 300 jobs that the company is promising to deliver.

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