PHOENIX — Arizona Department of Transportation’s wrong-way detection system has proven reliable, according to an evaluation, and it is being expanded throughout the Valley.
Thermal cameras to detect wrong-way drivers were installed along a portion of Interstate 17 as part of a pilot program.
The evaluation found that compared to waiting for 911 calls from other drivers, alerts from the system result in faster law enforcement response times. The system also triggers alerts to get the attention of wrong-way drivers and allows officials to quickly light up signage, warning other drivers in the area.
Dallas Hammit, ADOT’s state engineer and deputy director for transportation, said, “We’re using the thermal camera technology elsewhere and have established plans for other areas, including rural locations. I want to stress that thermal cameras can’t stop someone from being a wrong-way driver. But they are a big part of our efforts to reduce the risks associated with often-impaired wrong-way drivers.”
ADOT says the system has also been installed at most interchanges along the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway. They are working on installations along Loop 303 and it will be added on Loop 101 east of the I-17 and south of US 60.
Additionally, ADOT has made thermal cameras already used along L-101 (at 59th, 67th, 75th and Northern avenues), I-17 (at 19th Avenue and Jomax Road), Interstate 10 (at 27th and 91st avenues), and intersections along SR-347 to send alerts when a wrong-way driver is detected.
Since operation began in January 2018 between the I-10 stack interchange and Loop 101, the system has detected more than 100 wrong-way vehicles, mostly on ramps. Most of those vehicles self-corrected.
So far, there are 90 cameras in use. Further funding is needed to expand the cameras to other parts of the state.