Wrong-way driver detection system is first in U.S.

Wrong-way driver detection system is first in U.S.

Market news |
By Rich Pell

The Arizona Transportation Board just approved a plan to spend $3.7 million on an experimental system including thermal cameras, warning signs, and alerts to detect wrong-way drivers entering an off-ramp, which would also simultaneously warn the wrong-way driver, other drivers, and authorities of the danger. The system is to be installed on a 15-mile stretch of the state’s Interstate 17 highway, where the most fatal wrong-way crashes have occurred.

The plan was accelerated as a result of recent wrong-way crashes on I-17. The highway has a history of such incidents, with some involving wrong-way vehicles traveling 10 miles or more before being stopped.

With the new system, the thermal cameras would be used to detect any car entering I-17 on an off-ramp. This would then trigger alerts – such as flashing lights and lit-up signs – designed to get the wrong-way driver to stop.

At the same time, overhead message boards would be used to warn other drivers of the danger, and the state’s traffic control operation center would be instantly notified via automated alerts. Meanwhile, the wrong-way vehicle would continue to be automatically tracked by cameras stationed along the highway, providing authorities with its precise location at any given time.

According to ADOT, it plans to install the cameras and relay systems in the fall, if not sooner. The agency says the pilot project will take seven months to complete.

Arizona Department of Transportation

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