PHOENIX, Ariz. – A comprehensive study done by the Arizona Department of Transportation shows over the past ten years there were 245 wrong way collisions in Arizona and 91 of them were fatal. Yuma sector DPS Sergeant Brian Turner says, “We’ve seen a large increase in wrong way collisions on state highways”. A spokesman for ADOT Doug Nintzel says, “25% of wrong way crashes are fatal compared to 1% of all crashes so there’s a higher probability of death that’s why we are taking this seriously.”
ADOT is trying to change the statistics, they are now testing a unique system to try and quickly detect a wrong way driver and alert law enforcement Nintzel explains, “Now they are responding to 911 calls but if they are alerted by our technology they can respond quickly”. The new system will be tested on Interstate 17 in Phoenix. You may ask, how does it work? ADOT says that they will use existing sensors meant to track traffic flow and rework them to detect when a driver his heading in the wrong direction. They say this could also alert drivers in harm’s way Nintzel says “We are looking at ways that message boards could be connected to alert those of us driving the right way”.
ADOT says it has taken many measures already to make sure someone will not go in the wrong direction including putting up larger wrong way signs and arrows on the road pointing in the correct travel direction. Many times they say the drivers that go the wrong way are impaired causing further issues. DPS Sgt. Turner says the new technology would be helpful, and they do have methods of stopping wrong way drivers by alerting traffic and trying to stop the vehicle going in the wrong direction.
If the results of the prototype are good you could see it on a road near you as Nintzel explains, “We have to test it for a year and see how it does and hopefully expand that into areas like the Yuma area”. ADOT says that the new system will be in development this coming year.