States test technology to combat wrong-way drivers

AUSTIN (KXAN) — States, including Texas, are testing alert and detection systems to try to prevent the crashes and deaths caused by wrong-way drivers.

The Texas Department of Transportation is testing technology in San Antonio, which takes pictures of cars going the wrong way and activates flashing lights on wrong way signs.

“There’s everything from high tech solutions to low tech solutions to just trying to get people to drive safely and look at other alternatives if they’re not able to drive safely,” said Jennifer Duthie, a research engineer for the Center for Transportation Research at the University of Texas.

In Florida, the Department of Transportation is also using signs that light up when radar detects a car going the wrong way. A camera also snaps pictures of wrong-way drivers like these and sends them to highway patrol dispatchers. Since last October, a Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson the flashing lights went off and the cameras took pictures twelve times. Nearly all the drivers turned around.

“This system has already contributed to save lives. So I think it’s going to, in the near future it’s going to be implimented throughout the state,” said Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Sanchez.

A TxDOT spokesperson says the decision to put similar technology on more Texas highways would be made on a district-by-district basis. A spokesperson for the Austin district says the district currently has no plans to install such systems in the Austin area because it is not seeing a pattern of wrong-way driving at specific locations. In other areas of the state, TxDOT has noticed specific places where cars are entering the roadway and heading the wrong direction.

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