A new I-17 pilot project is testing a system that would alert police and other drivers to the presence of a wrong-way vehicle
The state of Arizona is investing in a potential high-tech solution to instantly alert police and motorists to the presence of a wrong-way driver on a roadway.
The state is the first in the nation to test thermal cameras to combat the rate of wrong-way collisions. The number of Americans killed each year in these types of crashes has increased by more than 38% since 2013. Wrong-way collisions also are 50 times more likely to be deadly compared to all vehicle crashes.
As part of a $4 million pilot project, the state is posting the thermal cameras at off-ramps along a 15-mile stretch of I-17 in order to immediately spot a wrong-way driver entering the freeway.
When the system is triggered, an alarm sounds in the Arizona Department of Transportation operations center. It brings up the camera and alerts police to the driver's location. Within seconds, electronic signs along the highway warn "wrong-way driver ahead, exit freeway."
Officials from other states are now coming to Arizona to see how the pilot program is working. The state is planning to expand it, adding these cameras to a new stretch of freeway set to open this year.