Arizona to overcome Wrong-way driving with new technology

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Department of Public Safety officials reported 956 incidents involving wrong-way drivers so far in 2017. Arizona Transportation officials installed lower and larger “wrong way” and “do not enter” signs on freeway ramps in 2015, in an effort to curb the problem

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Arizona transportation officials are moving forward with a first-in-the-nation pilot program. It uses thermal camera technology to curb the wrong-way driving problem plaguing the state. The new system will allow law enforcement to respond to wrong-way driving cases even faster than it already does.

More than 80 percent of the drivers are impaired. Most reported incidents don’t result in arrests or collisions because motorists correct themselves. The program will also help identify the ramps where wrong-way drivers are more prone to enter the freeway.

Cameras between the Interstate 10 and Loop 101 interchanges on I-17

The detection system will illuminate a sign that notifies the wrong-way driver. Immediately alert the state Department of Public Safety. Arizona Department of Transportation officials will update message boards along the interstate, cautioning other drivers of a wrong-way vehicle. The program first installed on 15-mile (24-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 17 in Phoenix, along roadways and ramps. Wrong-way drivers have killed at least eight deaths in Arizona this year.

The Arizona State Transportation Board unanimously voted Friday to award the contract to Contractors West, Inc., a Mesa-based company that specializes in highway electrical and sign work. State officials expect the installation of cameras between the Interstate 10 and Loop 101 interchanges on I-17 by the end of November.

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Contractors West’s bid was about $1.9 million, 6.6 percent higher than the state’s estimate but within the project’s $3.7 million budget. State officials used some of the funding to purchase equipment in hopes of expediting the project.