ADOT to use signal lights at entrance ramps to warn of wrong-way drivers

PHOENIX - As the number of wrong-way drivers continues to rise across the Valley, the Arizona Department of Transportation is continuing its testing of a new system that includes technology to warn drivers of vehicles that are heading the wrong direction.

In 2018, there have been 22 wrong-way incidents across Phoenix; four of which resulted in deaths. In an attempt to prevent future tragedies on Arizona roads and highways, ADOT has launched a pilot wrong-way detection system using thermal camera technology along a section of Interstate 17.

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When the system detects a wrong-way driver, it will turn on a red light at nearby entrance ramp meters to hold "right way" traffic until it's safe to enter, an ADOT spokeswoman explained.

The I-17 project will turn on the red signal light if a wrong-way vehicle is within three miles of an entrance ramp meter. If the car continues on the freeway, more red light meters will be activated but will automatically turn off once the car has left the area.

The I-17 system features 90 cameras positioned above exit ramps as well as between the I-10 Stack interchange near downtown and the Loop 101 interchange in north Phoenix, officials said, Alerts are also sent to ADOT's office so that warning signs are activated on the freeway while DPS troopers respond to the calls.

The cameras along the freeway were first launched in January 2018 and have been activated 30 times, however, most of the incidents have been related to drivers turning around before entering the freeway. 

See all of the media-reported wrong-way incidents in the map below:

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