We hear of wrong way drivers and see the carnage after wrecks occur, but in this week’s Crime Watch we found something maybe you haven't seen: wrong way drivers heading full speed into the view of officers' patrol cars.
In May of 2014, a San Antonio police officer activates his lights to pull over a driver when suddenly he has a new problem.
A black car can be seen suddenly swerving to avoid a car traveling in the wrong direction on a highway exit ramp. The red car in front of the officer is struck and then the officer also becomes involved.
The officer gets the wrong way driver out of the car and tries to make sense of how it happened.
Driver: "Was I just facing the complete wrong direction?"
Officer: "You were coming toward us. We were going the correct way."
26-year-old Luis Garza tells the officer he was drinking at a bar on the northeast side of the city. He says he believes that he is on 281. He was really on the 410 loop, driving westbound on the eastbound frontage road.
Driver: "I'm so sorry."
Officer: "Do you feel like you're intoxicated?"
The driver is put through a series of field sobriety tests and then placed in handcuffs. Garza is charged with DWI with a blood alcohol content of .15 or higher.
Last year, San Antonio officers received an alert from dispatch of a wrong way driver on I-10.
As the responding officer gets into position you can see an alert on the traffic sign above him. It says "wrong way driver reported use extreme caution."
Dispatch: "Callaghan headed your direction."
The officer goes out of view as he puts stop sticks down. They work.
Officer: "I got him with the stop sticks."
The driver turns out to be a woman. Mya Summer Smith is arrested for driving while intoxicated with a blood alcohol content of .15 or higher.
While in the back of the patrol car it is difficult to hear her responses, but as the officer pulls up to the jail. You can faintly hear her say she recognized the error.
Driver: "I know what I did was wrong."
In her case the quick actions of the San Antonio officers worked. In 2011, San Antonio police began a partnership with TxDOT to combat wrong-way drivers.
We recently visited a TxDOT operation center to see how that partnership works. A police dispatcher on the floor of the center monitors wrong way driver calls. When one comes in, the dispatcher alerts TxDOT staff who watch traffic cameras to better inform the dispatcher of the wrong way driver's position.
Within the next two years a network of cameras will be installed from the Williamson/Bell County line down to the Hays/Comal County line so that traffic officials will be able to seamlessly follow vehicles.
44 message boards are currently being installed allowing officials to display warnings to drivers again, like you saw in the video.
Seven people have recently lost their lives to wrong way drivers in and around Austin.