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Operation Safe Roads: Experts weigh in on possible wrong-way driving solutions

Wrong-way driving sign
Posted at 5:20 PM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-04 21:55:14-04

PHOENIX — So far this year, 16 people have been killed in wrong-way crashes across the state.

That has surpassed the number of people killed in wrong-way crashes in all of 2018, according to the Department of Public Safety.

It continues to happen on the roads we travel every day to get to work or to take our kids to school. That makes this problem truly feel close to home.

But, national experts say that drivers in different stats are feeling the same way and those experts are now weighing in on possible solutions we could all use.

"It's not unique to any one state," Robert Molloy said on Arizona's Morning News KTAR 92.3 FM on Wednesday. "It's problems that are crossing the whole nation."

Molloy is the National Transportation Safety Board's Office of Highway Safety and he tracks what is being done to stop these drivers nationwide.

"We've seen some states make some efforts with improving their signage," Molloy explained. "That has had local kind of impacts to prevent certain areas that have had problems."

The Arizona Department of Transportation states, they have made upgrades to some signs in the state.

They also say they are focused on adding specialized background illuminated wrong-way signs on the I-17 as part of their pilot detection program.

ABC15 has asked to see the developments of the project. ADOT declined, writing in an email that they wanted to wait until the pilot was completed in the fall.

When DPS is asked about wrong-ways, they say the solution will only come when society changes.

"People are getting behind the wheel impaired," said Sgt. Kameron Lee. "We would think in today's day-in-age... we're in 2019... that this would be something that was going away."

While Molloy agrees that impaired driving is a part of this, he believes there are other ways to take action and he is focused on the technology many of us already have in our vehicles now.

"When we're getting ready to make a turn to go a certain direction, GPS knows pretty well where we are," Molloy said.

He said his team has been advocating for GPS, vehicle, and cell phone manufacturers to add alerts for drivers.

"if you turn to go the wrong-way down a road, it will actually give you an alert that you're going the wrong-way," Molloy described.

He did not say how or when something like this could be implemented, but Molloy believes - it could be an effective way in reducing the problem.

Have a road issue or question for Operation Safe Roads? You can call 833-AZROADS or email