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Valley drivers want more precautions after three wrong-way crashes in nearly 24 hours

Posted at 7:14 PM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-13 23:58:57-04

PHOENIX — Valley drivers are calling for more safety precautions after three wrong-way accidents happened in nearly 24 hours.

Those accidents killed one and sent five to the hospital, including a trooper.

DPS told ABC15 they have not ruled out impairment in those crashes.

"We hear about it so often you know, and it's just like what's going to happen next?" said Wanita Wilds.

Wilds worries every time she gets behind the wheel, about wrong-way drivers.

"Yeah, I see two to three almost every week," said Wilds.

She drives across the Valley for Uber and provides private transportation. Wilds was out this past weekend, at one point driving on SR51 near Northern Avenue just minutes before one of the three wrong-way crashes here in the Valley.

She said her friends knew she was in the area and started calling and texting her.

"I'm always scared," said Wilds. "Who is it going to be? Is it going to be one of my children, one of my grandchildren driving?"

Just a few months ago, in the fall that other driver was Elizabeth Krebs, who was almost killed in a wrong-way crash.

"I'm very lucky that I survived," said Krebs.

It was her 25th wedding anniversary in September of 2021, and Krebs was driving home from work in Mohave County.

"I was in the right-hand lane," said Krebs. "[I] switched lanes to pass the person in front of me, and a woman was coming straight at me didn't even give me time to react."

She was badly injured and, to this day, is still learning to walk again.

In 2018, ADOT put thermal cameras in place at some freeway off ramps in the Valley to spot and alert DPS about wrong-way drivers. The cameras were a piece of the wrong-way vehicle alert system along a 15-mile stretch of I-17.

Since then, we're told the original set of cameras has detected more than 250 vehicles.

More cameras have also been installed, in other areas of the Valley, but ADOT told ABC15 none of them caught any of the wrong-way drivers this past weekend.

Statistics show specifically on highways here in Arizona, the state is on track to see less wrong-way crashes than in 2021.

"It just baffles me that people continue to drive not knowing where they are going or what they are doing," said Krebs.

But Krebs and Wilds both still worry, and want more precautions.

Krebs would like to see more dividers placed in rural areas, and Wilds would like even more cameras.

ADOT says they are working with other state agencies to try and expand the thermal cameras as funding allows.