The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has been in the process of inventing a new way to combat wrong-way driving, after several years of studying ways to engineer a system that would reduce the number of wrong-way incursions, collisions, and deaths on metro Phoenix freeways.
ADOT says a prototype of that system is weeks away. The department is currently designing a system that would use thermal camera technology to alert wrong-way drivers, law enforcement and other drivers on the road of a wrong-way vehicle.
A study from engineers in the state listed 14 criteria for deciding which technologies were best up to the job. Among them were cost, safety, reliability, accuracy, if installing a device would tear up too much of the road and if it could be reasonably maintained. The recommended system is a complex, sophisticated network of detectors and communication devices.
To stop drivers entering the freeway on the off-ramps, engineers recommend using loop detectors and multiple notification elements. Those include pole-mounted radar detectors and cameras, magnetometers and microwave detectors to find errant cars.
Engineers recommended using existing email blasts and CCTV cameras preset to watch stretches of road where a driver would enter the freeway in error to alert ADOT personnel at its Traffic Operations Center and the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Engineers recommended flashing LED lights around the “wrong way” signs, and more flashing LED lights at the bottom of the ramp to alert the wrong-way driver to turn back. They also suggested embedding flashing red lights in the pavement of the on-ramp because most wrong-way drivers are impaired and tend to fixate on the roadway right in front of them.
Meanwhile, authorities also have to tell drivers in regular traffic that something is headed their way in the wrong direction. For this, engineers favored technology that exists today: the ramp metering lights and electronic message boards.
ADOT is expected to begin installation of the pilot system this fall.
Source: Phoenix New Times