State plans Phoenix test project to combat wrong-way crashes

PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona is responding to a flurry of deadly wrong-way crashes with a plan for a test project on a Phoenix freeway to use sensors to detect wrong-way drivers and alert authorities and other motorists.

The Department of Transportation announced the project Monday planned for a yet-to-be-determined stretch of Interstate 117 after a months-long study.

"They are in pavement, the sensors are every few miles, and would track the wrong-way driver. The notification is sent instantly to the Traffic Operations Center, and the Arizona DPS," said Sarah Simpson.

Traffic sensors will detect wrong-way vehicles to alerts state troopers and to post warnings on overhead message board, and on-ramps' traffic lights will stay red to keep traffic off the freeway when there's a wrong-way vehicle.

ADOT has already installed numerous "wrong way" and "do not enter" signs on ramps.

"What we found was 65% of wrong-way drivers involved in collisions were impaired. What is unique through this prototype is that we would track the vehicle through the system, and continue to track it until that vehicle is stopped," said Simpson.

A wrong-way crash killed a fire department dispatcher Jan. 27. Two wrong-way crashes in 2014 killed an off-duty Mesa police officer and a young Mesa couple.