Anais Alvarado and her fiancée were heading home after spending the Memorial day with their family in Mesa. Alvardo says they were in the HOV lane, one which DPS officials say most wrong way drivers tend to gravitate toward.
"I'm looking forward and all of a sudden I realize there is a car with headlights facing towards us, I yelled at him there's a car coming our way, he swerves as the car is literally passing us," said Alvarado.
Troopers tried to stop him by activating emergency lights, but were unsuccessful. They were able catch the suspect as he tried to get off the Val Vista Drive exit.
A spokesman said charges against him could include DUI, hit and run, and several counts of impairment.
Alvarado said the incident left her feeling angry, as the suspect could have made a different choice instead of getting behind the wheel.
"It's frustrating when people don't make good decisions on their part, it affects everyone else, and their community," she said. "It's upsetting because something worse could have happened."
DPS officials reminded drivers to be pro-active. A spokesman sent us this statement:
"DPS would like to remind motorists to avoid distractions while driving so that you can better respond, or take evasive action, if you encounter a hazard such as a wrong way driver.
Have a plan mind to avoid a wrong-way vehicle so that if you encounter one, you will not waste a moment to take emergency evasive action that could save your life. Ultimately, drivers hold the responsibility for safety in their hands."
So far this year, there have been 694 reports of wrong way drivers. Sixteen of them resulted in crashes or fatalities, almost all of them involved drivers who were impaired.
ADOT is also currently working on ways to help reduce the number of wrong way crashes.
A spokesman said:
"What we’re working on should not be described as a system to prevent all wrong-way crashes. We’re researching ways to reduce the risk by quickly detecting such vehicles, notifying DPS right away and warning drivers who are traveling in the correct direction.
Our I-17 pilot system is in final design, with plans to begin installation by the fall. As part of the system, we are focusing on the use of sensors on poles to detect vehicles traveling the wrong way.
The I-17 pilot system’s planned boundaries are between I-10 (Stack interchange) and Loop 101."