Wrong-way crashes in Arizona: Officials answer 5 top questions over what can be done

Experts from Arizona's transportation agencies are speaking out following three deadly wrong-way crashes on Valley roadways in less than a week:

Check out their answers to five of the most common questions regarding wrong-way crashes:

Q: Can the Arizona Department of Transportation install “shredding strips” on on/off ramps to pop the tires of someone going in the wrong direction?

A: No. Those devices (commonly seen at parking ramps or entrances to parks) are intended to be driven over at about 5 mph, according to Timothy Tait, an ADOT spokesperson. Drivers going the correct way over the devices at merging speeds could damage tires.

Q: Can police shoot the wrong-way driver, or shoot out the person’s tire?

A: No. It is against policy to shoot at a moving vehicle, according to a Department of Public Safety spokesperson.

Q: Can police go the wrong way and chase the driver?

A: No. It is against policy to chase someone the wrong way while oncoming traffic is still approaching, according to a DPS spokesman. A police car going the wrong way would “double the danger,” he said.

Q: What will an electronic sign say if a wrong-way driver is coming toward me?

A: “Oncoming Traffic Ahead, Move Right,” according to an ADOT spokesperson. That is the standard message used, per policy.

Q: Aren’t there sensors on highway ramps that could immediately alert authorities of a driver’s wrong-way entrance onto a highway?

A: Such technology exists, according to Sarah Simpson, who is researching the devices for the state. Simpson, a PhD with the engineering firm United Civil Corp., said the technology is currently in a research phase. 

A recommendation on which devices to use and how to use them could be presented to ADOT in as early as six months, Simpson said. ADOT would then decide if and when to implement the devices. No state in the country uses the devices on a large scale, Simpson said.

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