Wrong Way Crashes

Posted in: Bridges, Construction, Highways


wrong way do not enter signsOne of the deadliest types of crashes are those that occur due to wrong way driving—when a driver ends up going the wrong way on a freeway. Though these events are rare, they are challenging to mitigate as it’s extremely difficult to determine how or why a driver would end up in this situation in the first place. In the transportation industry, we are seeing an increased focus on finding solutions to avoid crashes that result in severe injury or fatalities.

This issue is occurring nationwide; however, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has recently implemented an innovative new solution to this problem: electronic signage.

Due to our longtime relationship with ODOT on safety projects, we’ve been privy to several of the approaches they’ve tried to limit wrong way entries over the years. Some of these include increased “dual wrong way” and “do not enter” signage, placing signs close to the ground because impaired drivers often focus downward, and applying directional arrows on the ramps to alert motorists again that they are traveling the wrong way. Now, electronic signage has arrived on the scene.

This system will be able to detect vehicles entering the wrong way, which will cause LED lights in the signs to flash, and an alert will be sent to the ODOT traffic management center. This strategy not only alerts drivers that they are going the wrong way at the time of the incident—it also serves to collect data on where and when drivers are driving the wrong way to begin with. This will ultimately help highway planners create better, safer highways. Electronic signage is a relatively low-cost solution will hopefully help subvert a crash problem with often tragic results.

In a similar vein, the July 2019 issue of ITE contained an article that discussed using drones to aid in analyzing the wrong way problem. The article discusses how it’s possible drones, equipped with high-quality cameras, could be used to collect precise, accurate data on wrong way driving on exit ramp terminals.

As technology evolves, solutions like these become increasingly cost-effective and realistic to implement. We are excited to see what the future holds for the Transportation industry. Hopefully, these improvements that will lead to a reduction in wrong-way crashes and ultimately make our roadways safer for everyone.


Jay Hamilton, PE

About the Author

Jay Hamilton, P.E., has worked in the transportation industry for over 30 years specializing in traffic safety and congestion. Whether you are building a new intersection or upgrading an existing one, Jay can help you provide safe and efficient traffic flow for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Read more posts by Jay Hamilton, PE

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