Early Monday morning, a wrong-way driver traveled 37 miles along I-17 before the driver was stopped near New River. The driver was taken into custody and booked into jail on felony DUI charges. Thankfully the driver was stopped before any collision occurred, but reports of wrong way drivers on Arizona roadways seem to be a common occurrence.
Robert Molloy, director of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Office of Highway Safety has a plan to reduce the number of wrong-way driving incidents in not only Arizona, but the entire nation.
“The reality is this is a nationwide problem,” he said. “Three hundred people a year will lose their lives in wrong-way crashes.”
Molloy says he and his office have begun plans to advocate for GPS alerts on cellphones and car systems.
“When we’re getting ready to make a turn to go a certain direction, the GPS knows pretty well where we are,” he said. “So we actually recommended that manufacturers of GPS systems and vehicle manufacturers put alerts in cars, so if you turn to go the wrong way down a road, it will actually give you an alert.”
Molloy also wants to possibly enhance signage to inform drivers about wrong-way driving.
“Older drivers tend to go to the wrong way on roads more often than others,” he said. “So putting in extra warning signs when’s that possible, instead of just the normal wrong-way, put it on two levels, so it’s lower, so they see it more easily than the higher signs.”
Another main cause of wrong-way driving is drunk drivers. His office has suggested lowering Arizona’s legal blood alcohol level to 0.05%; as it is currently 0.08%.
Sometimes the problem simply lies in the design of the roadways.
“When you’re dealing with a normal entrance ramp, that’s very shallow, you go into a long curve, that’s unlikely that someone’s going to go (the wrong way) on that road,” he said.
“But if you have a 90-degree turn, that’s a place where people often enter the wrong way on the roadway.”
Click here for more information on the Office of Highway Safety.