The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) implemented a project to install larger and more visible wrong-way signs along three of the major Southern Arizona interstates. This project intends to improve roadway safety due to the influx of drivers driving in the wrong direction. The state plans to replace older wrong-way signs with signs that are larger and more noticeable to further improve road safety. The project is set to complete in early 2022.
Wrong Way Driving Accidents in Arizona
In Arizona, wrong-way drivers are a trend. The state has taken measures to mitigate wrong-way drivers, but the numbers continue to rise. A study from AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety shows a 65.8% increase in the average number of wrong-way driving fatalities in Arizona from the years 2010-2014 and 2015-2018.
Crash data provided by the Arizona Republic showed there were 262 wrong-way collisions that resulted in 72 fatalities from the years 2016 to 2019. Over half of the collisions and fatalities involved alcohol. The data also showed wrong-way accidents occurred more frequently on freeways as opposed to city streets.
What Interstates Will the Wrong Way Sign Project Include?
- Interstate 8 in Pinal County
- Interstate 10 in Cochise, Pinal, and Pima counties
- Interstate 19 in Pima and Santa Cruz counties
What is Causing These Collisions?
There are a variety of factors that attribute to the increase in wrong-way driving collisions. The Department of Public Safety stated that impaired driving is a key factor in wrong-way driving fatalities. Arizona DPS also found age to be a major contributing factor, stating that drivers over 80 were 92% more likely to be the cause of a collision.
Solutions to Stop Wrong-Way Driving
- Stay Alert
- Individuals from Arizona tend to be more likely to drive in the wrong direction because they are used to Arizona roads and highways and therefore less alert.
- Individuals from out-of-state tend to be less likely to drive in the wrong direction because they lack familiarity with the roads, making them more likely to stay alert.
- Hands-Free Driving
- Distracted driving can cause a driver not to see signage.
- Report Wrong-Way Drivers
- Reporting wrong-way drivers can prevent accidents from occurring. If you see a wrong-way driver, get to safety and immediately alert law enforcement.
Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Vehicle Interception Plan
The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) established a “vehicle interception plan” that trains officers to identify wrong-way drivers. The plan trains officers to perform special traffic maneuvers to stop wrong-way drivers. This plan makes it imperative that drivers call 911 immediately if they see a wrong-way driver.
Another solution is the use of thermal cameras along highways. Thermal cameras can detect a vehicle driving in the wrong direction and flash red lights to warn drivers that they are driving the wrong way. Cameras on I-17 have already shown success, detecting over 90 wrong-way drivers since their launch.
The Arizona Department of Transportation’s project is funded with federal highway safety funds. The ADOT plans to replace old signage with newer and larger signs. ADOT also plans to add white pavement arrows that point in the correct direction.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a wrong-way driver in Arizona, an Arizona attorney may be able to help.
1) Vandell, P. (2021, June 12). Deadly wrong-way highway crashes continue to plague … U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved March 17, 2022, from www.usnews.com/news/best-states/arizona/articles/2021-06-12/deadly-wrong-way-highway-crashes-continue-to-plague-arizona
2) Wrong way sign project begins in Southern Arizona. Wrong way sign project begins in southern Arizona | ADOT. (n.d.). Retrieved March 17, 2022, from azdot.gov/adot-news/wrong-way-sign-project-begins-southern-arizona