According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS), the majority of wrong-way crashes involve a driver who is impaired at the time.
ABC 15 in Phoenix’ Operation Safe Roads Team reports that from 2015 to 2019, there were more than 2,000 wrong-way crashes. Of the 330 wrong-way accidents on Valley Freeways where a DPS trooper made contact with a driver, it is estimated that 63% of those crashes involved a driver that was impaired by alcohol or drugs.
The remaining 37% of wrong-way crashes were for other reasons, including a driver that was elderly, confused or fatigued.
Interstate 17 is a freeway on which a majority of those crashes have occurred. DPS has launched a wrong-way detection program, complete with thermal cameras that can alert troopers when a driver is heading in the wrong direction on the freeway.
The pilot program to stop wrong-way drivers and save lives has resulted in the Arizona DPS being presented with an award by the Federal Highway Administration.
The test area involves a 15-mile stretch of I-17, which uses the thermal detection to both detect and alert authorities and to alert drivers to the danger on overhead message boards. So far, more than 90 wrong-way driving incidents have been averted since the installation of the program.