Wrong Way Driver

ADOT to test ‘Wrong Way’ sign changes, add reflective pavement arrows at several Phoenix-area freeway interchanges

ADOT to test ‘Wrong Way’ sign changes, add reflective pavement arrows at several Phoenix-area freeway interchanges

I-17 101 traffic interchange

ADOT to test ‘Wrong Way’ sign changes, add reflective pavement arrows at several Phoenix-area freeway interchanges

ADOT to test ‘Wrong Way’ sign changes, add reflective pavement arrows at several Phoenix-area freeway interchanges

June 25, 2014

PHOENIX – New steps are being taken in the Phoenix area this week in efforts to get the attention of wrong-way drivers before they enter a freeway in the wrong direction.

Although “Do Not Enter” and “Wrong Way” signs already are in place along freeway off-ramps, new and larger versions of such signs will be installed and studied along the exit ramps at six freeway interchanges, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation. In addition, signs will be placed lower on their posts to test if that could help in alerting confused or impaired wrong-way drivers.

Crews also will be adding pavement markers in the shape of large arrows pointing the right way along the exit ramps. Those pavement markers have reflectors to display the color red as a warning to any drivers going the wrong way on the ramps. The reflectors are already in use as part of the lane markings on freeways.

The decision to enhance wrong-way driver signs and markings and observe their effectiveness follows discussions between ADOT, the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety and the state’s Department of Public Safety.

In recent weeks, the new signs were produced at ADOT’s Sign Shop in Phoenix.

The six interchanges where the wrong-way driver countermeasures are being changed or introduced were identified in an earlier research study as ones with a history of wrong-way vehicle incidents, according to an analysis of 9-1-1 calls made to the Department of Public Safety.

Over the next few days, crews will complete work to add the larger signs and the "wrong-way arrow" pavement markings along 13 off-ramps at the six interchanges, including three exits available to drivers at the Interstate 17 interchange at Carefree Highway (State Route 74).

The changes are being made at the following freeway interchanges:

  • Interstate 17 and Carefree Highway (State Route 74)
  • Loop 101 (Agua Fria) and Thunderbird Road
  • Loop 101 (Agua Fria) and Peoria Avenue
  • Interstate 10 and Ray Road
  • Interstate 10 and Wild Horse Pass Boulevard
  • Interstate 10 and Queen Creek Road (State Route 347)

The larger “Do Not Enter” signs along the ramps are increased in size from 30 by 30 inches to 48 by 48 inches. Beneath them, the new “Wrong Way” signs measure 48 by 36 inches. In an effort to make them even more visible, the bottom of the lower signs will be located three feet from the ground, compared to the seven-foot clearance for wrong-way signs at most of the other state-highway interchanges.

It is not yet known how long the new signs and other changes will be studied before a decision is made about an expansion of the program to other state freeway or highway locations. There are more than 100 traffic interchanges on the Phoenix-area freeway system and more than 475 interchanges along the rest of the state highway system.

ADOT and other public safety agencies work in support of the three E’s of highway safety: engineering, education and enforcement. The sign changes and the addition of the reflective pavement marker wrong-way arrows are examples of near-term engineering steps ADOT can implement and study as part of an overall effort to reduce the risk of wrong-way drivers.

Wrong Way Drivers Focus of Emergency Meeting of State Highway Safety Officials

Wrong Way Drivers Focus of Emergency Meeting of State Highway Safety Officials

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Wrong Way Drivers Focus of Emergency Meeting of State Highway Safety Officials

Wrong Way Drivers Focus of Emergency Meeting of State Highway Safety Officials

May 19, 2014

PHOENIX – The directors of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, convened an emergency meeting Sunday afternoon to talk about the recent fatal wrong-way driver crashes on Arizona highways.

DPS Director Robert Halliday, ADOT Director John Halikowski and Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Alberto Gutier, along with their executive staff members, reviewed the three recent fatal wrong-way collisions and discussed strategies for reducing these types of crashes in the future. The group focused on the “3 E’s” of highway safety: enforcement, engineering and education.

Enforcement: The Highway Patrol’s top priority is to remove impaired drivers from Arizona roadways. With the support of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, local and county police agencies, we will continue to remove DUI drivers from our roadways in order to reduce the occurrence of serious injury and/or fatal crashes on Arizona roadways.

The Highway Patrol will remain vigilant in its mission to protect human life and property by enforcing DUI and all other traffic laws. Distracted drivers also create a danger on the roadway and the Highway Patrol has been using existing state laws to combat distracted driving.

“Our mission is to protect the lives of people who travel on state highways, I take that very seriously,” said Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Robert Halliday. “I am personally overseeing DPS’ participation with ADOT and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety in a collaborative effort to protect motorists on state highways.”

Engineering: ADOT affirmed its commitment to study freeway on- and off-ramp configuration and continue research into strategies to detect, communicate and intercept wrong-way drivers. Already, ADOT has lowered “wrong way” signs on freeway exit ramps to be more at a driver’ eye level and, since 1995, has installed red reflectors in freeway lanes to warn wrong-way drivers.

“While there might not be an immediate engineering-based strategy ADOT can implement, we are committed to researching national practices for detecting wrong-way drivers, communicating that information to law enforcement and other motorists, and trying to send a message to the wrong-way driver,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski. “We will assess our current methods and strategies and see what can be improved, as we look for feasible innovative solutions.”

Education: The agencies urge all drivers to talk with others about how, as a defensive driver, they would handle an encounter with a wrong-way driver. Tips for motorists include driving in the center and right lanes, especially during overnight hours when wrong-way drivers are more likely to be encountered. Motorists should also be good witnesses, making quick 911 calls when a wrong-way or impaired driver is observed and providing dispatchers with good information on the vehicle, location and direction of travel to assist officers with a quick intercept. Motorists should “expect the unexpected” when on the road, not drive distracted and report all suspected impaired drivers immediately to law enforcement.

“The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is committed to providing law enforcement with funding, equipment and training to deter and remove impaired drivers from our roads,” said Alberto Gutier, director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “I will continue to support the Highway Patrol, cities, towns and sheriff’s departments in their efforts to prevent injuries and fatalities on Arizona roadways.”

The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, DPS and ADOT are currently working on revisions to the Strategic Highway Safety Plan, which emphasizes strategies to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes. Those strategies will address factors often associated with wrong-way drivers.