Driver caught heading wrong way on Westpark Tollway

February 10, 2012 3:47:10 AM PST
We have exclusive video of a driver going the wrong direction on the Westpark Tollway. It happened near Mason Road, a location that's critical to this story because of what's not on that part of the tollway.

Sixty-thousands cars travel the tollway daily. About 13 miles of the road is are Harris County and another five are in Fort Bend. And while it's the same road, we've learned the two portions aren't necessarily equal when it comes to safety technology.

We've shown you video of wrong-way drivers on the Westpark Tollway captured from high above. But this most recent one is a short look from eye level.

Eyewitness News assignment editor Jarrod Carroll recorded the short video last night. That's also him honking at the driver who's heading the same way as he is even though a barrier separates them. As he was rolling, another driver was calling it in.

"There's somebody going the wrong way on the Westpark," the driver tells Fort Bend County authorities in the phone call.

And thankfully, before he even finished his phone call, the driver had turned around.

The Harris County Toll Road Authority has a intricate wrong-way driver detection system in place on the Westpark. But this driver was never detected, because she got on in Fort Bend County.

"We only fund projects that are on the Harris County Toll Road. We don't fund any projects in Fort Bend County," Harris County Toll Road Authority Asst. Chief Randy Johnson said.

While the Harris County Toll Road Authority has spent $350,000 on sensors, radar and software, the Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority hasn't. That means for five miles of the toll road -- the part in Fort Bend County -- authorities have to rely on callers to alert them about these dangerous drivers.

Lloyd Wills thinks it might be time for Fort Bend to consider the new technology.

"I've heard stories about people entering on the wrong way so it helps save lives, I think it's a great thing," Wills said.

Johnson says they've received interest regarding the technology from all over the world, and they believe it's worth every penny.

"Absolutely, there's not a doubt in our minds it's saved lives," he said.

Before this detection system was installed on the Harris County portion of this toll road, there were four fatalities attributed to wrong-way driving. Since its installation, there haven't been any.

We tried to reach the Fort Bend County Toll Authority for comment but no one returned our calls or emails.