PHOENIX — It has been more than three years since the Arizona Department of Transportation began using a wrong-way vehicle alert system along a 15-mile stretch of the I-17.
The cameras are placed on the I-17 between the I-10 "Stack" interchange and the Loop 101 interchange.
This was a pilot program and since then, ADOT has utilized what they refer to as the "key components of that system" on other freeways. Those including thermal cameras, alerts to ADOT and the Department of Public Safety, along with warning signals going up on freeway message boards once a wrong-way driver is detected.
Take a look at the map for media reported wrong-way incident on Valley freeways in 2021.
The thermal cameras are used to detect a wrong-way driver. ADOT said that does also include when a driver is entering an exit ramp going the wrong way.
Since 2018, ADOT reports the system has detected 180 wrong-way vehicles. Not all of those drivers resulted in a crash or came in contact with a DPS trooper.
In an email, ADOT spokesperson Doug Nintzel wrote "Fortunately, many of the drivers of detected wrong-way vehicles turned around on off-ramps without entering I-17. However, there are examples where AZDPS troopers responding to alerts were able to stop a wrong-way driver before a crash occurred."
He also listed where some of the technology has expanded now and where it will expand in the future:
The thermal detection cameras have been expanded to new locations. Now, they are operating at interchanges along the new Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway, the recently widened areas of the Loop 101 (Price Freeway) between US 60 and the Loop 202 (Santan Freeway), and the Loop 303 between I-10 and the I-17.
Take a look at the map below to see where new thermal cameras are being installed on Valley freeways.
Thermal cameras are set to be installed along with the widening project along the Loop 101 (Pima Freeway) between I-17 and Princess Drive. They will also plan on adding them in with the Broadway Curve widening project between the I-17 "Split" interchange near Sky Harbor Airport and the Loop 202 (Santan Freeway) interchange in Chandler.
Nintzel went on to explain that ADOT has been able to take existing thermal cameras on city streets and utilize them for wrong-way detection. They recently were able to do that on the Loop 101 Agua Fria Freeway (59th, 67th, 75th and Northern avenues), I-17 at 19th Avenue and Jomax Road, I-10 at 27th and 91st avenues, and multiple intersections along State Route 347 between I-10 and Maricopa.
ADOT said, as funding becomes available, they will work to continue adding the technology.