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Stopping Wrong-Way Drivers

(Photo Arts Magazine@Flickr)

It was three Michigan men who were killed early yesterday morning on Grand Island when their vehicle was struck head-on by an elderly driver who may have traveled as many as 10 miles in the wrong direction before the crash. A little more than a year ago, a wrong-way driver on the Kensington Expressway who was drunk and high on drugs collided with an SUV killing two cousins.

In the Dallas/Forth Worth area it’s an epidemic. Nine people have been killed in wrong-way crashes, including three young girls and a police officer, in the past month.

Transportation experts in Texas are looking at all kinds of options to get the problem under control or at least try to. Wrong way signs now flash on some problem roads and when 9-1-1 gets a call about a wrong-way driver, overhead signs flash that information to other drivers as soon as they can type it in.

One highway in San Antonio that had the highest number of wrong-way drivers now has radar specifically to detect cars going the wrong way.

The Westpark Tollway in Houston has sensors in the pavement. In three years, they’ve detected 96 wrong-way drivers and fatalities on that stretch of road has fallen to zero.

In Dallas/Fort Worth they have high speed toll collection systems. Rather than slowing down to five miles an hour – you can fly by at 70 miles an hour and the system charges your account. They’re trying to figure out a way to use the same system to detect wrong-way drivers.

That’s probably a whole lot better idea than the one being used for a while in California, where spikes were added to some highways that would pop the tires of wrong-way drivers. The problem was the system started to fail and was spiking the tires of vehicles going the right way.

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