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What's the best way to avoid a wrong-way crash?

According to AAA, 37 people die every year in California in wrong way crashes.

SAN DIEGO — Friday's crash that killed three people, including two San Diego police officers is a grim reminder of the dangers associated with wrong-way driving.

Wrong-way crashes are up nationwide, including here in California.

According to the American Automobile Association, in California, an average of 37 people are killed each year in wrong-way crashes.

This past week alone, there have been at least five in San Diego County.

Dashcam video reportedly shows the female driver who caused Friday’s crash, speeding North on Interstate 5 South just moments before impact.

“Once we get the call, we start responding out there, trying to get there to prevent a tragedy but a lot of times they happen within seconds,” said Juan Escobar with the California Highway Patrol.

Escobar said drivers need to be vigilant at all times.

Though most wrong-way crashes happen at night, Friday's incident is a tragic reminder it can happen during the day as well.

"The best advice I can see is to have your high visual horizon. Just be scanning your entire surroundings," said Escobar.

Another tip: drive in the middle lane.

It allows for more space to maneuver.

Plus, oftentimes, wrong-way drivers go all the way to the right side of the freeway, or the fast lane because they think it's the slow lane.

Since they are most likely impaired, they don't want to get pulled over for speeding.

“Probably their mentality is they don't wanna get caught. I'm gonna stay in the slow lane. I'm gonna keep it to the speed limit, but unfortunately, that's not the case," said Escobar.

Over the years, technology like thermal cameras have been set up on ramps to alert CHP when there's a wrong-way driver.

In addition, starting back in 2016, Cal Trans began a pilot program, making improvements to ramps along Interstate 15, everything from LED blinking "wrong way" and "do not enter" signs to pavement markers.

"It also highlighted the arrows that are there.  We outlined them with these pavement markers," said Erwin Gojuangco, a Cal Trans District Division Chief of Traffic Operations.

He said while those efforts did initially reduce wrong-way crashes locally, they have seen an uptick.

Cal Trans is now in the process of placing reflective markers on all exit ramps in San Diego County by the summer of 2023.

"Our hearts go out to those impacted by these tragic events,” said Gojuangco.

Spikes have been tested on some ramps, but they impede law enforcement when trying to respond to crashes.

They’re also not safe for crews that work along freeway ramps.

In addition, they’re not suitable beyond a certain speed limit and could put disabled motorists in harm’s way.

WATCH RELATED: Dashcam video captures driver involved in fatal wrong-way crash killing two San Diego detectives

   

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