There were 245 wrong-way crashes across Arizona from 2004-2014, resulting in 91 fatalities. From 2015-2016, the number of injuries and fatalities due to wrong-way drivers increased from 16 to 30. ADOT safety officials realized there had to be a better way to reduce the risk associated with wrong-way drivers. ADOT’s solution was to utilize a first-in-the-nation wrong-way system using thermal technology. The $4 million system, installed along a 15-mile stretch of I-17 in central Phoenix, consists of 90 FLIR thermal cameras positioned throughout the corridor to detect wrong-way vehicles, illuminated “WRONG WAY” signs for enhanced notification to the wrong-way driver, advisories for right-way drivers with directions on overhead message boards, and immediate notification to law enforcement and traffic operators.
The program is now successfully doing what ADOT hoped it would do—getting police to wrong-way drivers faster and alerting motorists in the area. Data shows a majority of wrong-way drivers are self-correcting before entering the freeway, making all drivers on the road much safer than before.