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UDOT to install new wrong-way driver detection and alert systems

New systems will improve safety and help prevent wrong-way crashes

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) today announced plans to install a new system to reduce the number of wrong-way drivers on Utah freeways. The new system – one of the most advanced wrong-way driver detection and warning systems in the country – will help improve safety by alerting drivers who are going the wrong way and by speeding up the process for alerting the Utah Highway Patrol and UDOT when a wrong-way driver is detected.

“We’re always looking at ways we can use technology to make our transportation system work better,” said Robert Miles, UDOT traffic and safety director. “This innovative system will help prevent wrong-way crashes, making our roads safer for everyone who uses them.”

UDOT installed this detection warning and alert system last fall on the northbound off-ramp from Legacy Parkway at the I-15/Park Lane/US-89 interchange in Farmington and has been testing it for several months. During that time, it has detected and alerted 23 wrong-way drivers, all of whom turned around. Last week, the Utah Transportation Commission approved a funding request for $2.5 million to install these cameras and signs at 20 additional locations. Most of the locations are along I-15 in Salt Lake City.

Photo car going wrong way and LED signs alerting them
“Wrong Way” warning signs alerting driver

The system consists of a detector unit, which includes a radar and high definition/infrared cameras, and a series of red “Wrong Way” warning signs equipped with high-intensity LED lights. When a wrong-way driver is detected by the radar or the cameras, the LED signs activate to alert the driver. If the vehicle continues going the wrong way, the system sends automated alerts to the UDOT Traffic Operations Center (TOC) and UHP so the driver can be tracked and stopped as quickly as possible.

UDOT had previously tested and installed a detection system on some ramps across the state in 2019, but after consulting with DOTs nationwide and evaluating new products as they became available, the department’s traffic safety engineers determined this new system would be more effective at detecting wrong-way vehicles, while adding the ability to actively warn wrong-way drivers and improve alerting capabilities. Along with the new detection, warning and alert system, UDOT has also installed additional signs and modified traffic signals to help make it more clear to drivers which way to go.

In 2022, there were 8 wrong-way crashes in Utah, which resulted in 10 fatalities. Wrong-way crashes are especially dangerous because they are typically head-on and at highway speeds.

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