I-17 Wrong Way Vehicle Alert System Combats Impaired Drivers

By Adin Tarr
Published: Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 4:14pm
Updated: Thursday, June 14, 2018 - 4:33pm
Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez/KJZZ
The ADOT Traffic Operation Center in Phoenix.

High speed wrong-way driving crashes are usually more severe than any other type of accident. The Arizona Department of Transportation is studying technology designed to reduce the risks posed by impaired drivers.

ADOT is six months and $4 million into the operation of an alert system for wrong-way vehicles on I-17. Spokesman Doug Nintzel said the system includes 90 thermal detection cameras and illuminated wrong-way signs to get the attention of these drivers.

“This technology can’t prevent all wrong-way crashes from happening. The primary goal is reducing the risk of serious crashes by alerting DPS and ADOT to wrong-way vehicles much faster,” said Nintzel.

To date, the system has detected more than 15 vehicles entering I-17 off-ramps and frontage roads. There are plans to use this technology on the new South Mountain Freeway at the end of next year.

New messaging for drivers will be also available with the new wrong-way vehicle alert system on I-17.

“We are testing the fact that we have put that message into effect. If there were to be a vehicle out there, we are actually advising drivers that the best thing to do is to exit the freeway,” said Nintzel.

ADOT messaging boards are updated in real time with accident information. Nintzel said that no crashes have been reported within the I-17 project's boundaries this year.