Ari­zona tar­gets wrong-way driv­ing with tech pro­gram

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

Ari­zona trans­porta­tion of­fi­cials are mov­ing for­ward with a first-in-then­ation pi­lot pro­gram that will use ther­mal cam­era tech­nol­ogy to curb the wrong-way driv­ing prob­lem plagu­ing the state. The de­tec­tion sys­tem will il­lu­mi­nate a sign that no­ti­fies the wrong-way driver and alert au­thor­i­ties. Trans­porta­tion of­fi­cials will up­date mes­sage boards along the high­way, warn­ing other driv­ers of a wrong-way ve­hi­cle. The tech­nol­ogy will be in­stalled on a 15-mile stretch of In­ter­state 17 in Phoenix, along road­ways and ramps. It comes af­ter wrong-way driv­ers have killed at least eight peo­ple in Ari­zona this year.

Metro Phoenix saw three wrong-way wrecks over about two weeks last month. The two deaths that re­sulted led Gov. Doug Ducey to urge state agen­cies to speed up and broaden the ther­mal cam­era pro­gram. “I want those cam­eras im­ple­mented as quickly as pos­si­ble, and ex­panded to as many ar­eas as pos­si­ble where they may make a dif­fer­ence and save a life,” Ducey said. Trans­porta­tion spokesman Steve El­liott said of­fi­cials have moved the project’s time­line for­ward about a month by pre-or­der­ing ma­te­ri­als, in­clud­ing cam­eras, poles and fiber-op­tic ca­bles.

The Ari­zona State Trans­porta­tion Board unan­i­mously voted Fri­day to award the con­tract to Con­trac­tors West Inc., a com­pany based in the Phoenix sub­urb of Mesa that spe­cial­izes in high­way elec­tri­cal and sign work. State of­fi­cials ex­pect the cam­eras to be in­stalled be­tween the In­ter­state 10 and Loop 101 in­ter­changes on I-17 by the end of Novem­ber. Con­trac­tors West’s bid was about $1.9 mil­lion. Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety of­fi­cials said 956 in­ci­dents in­volv­ing wrong-way driv­ers have been re­ported so far this year. More than 80 per­cent of the driv­ers are im­paired.

Most in­ci­dents don’t re­sult in ar­rests or crashes be­cause driv­ers cor­rect them­selves, said Al­berto Gu­tier, di­rec­tor of the Gov­er­nor’s Of­fice of High­way Safety. Trans­porta­tion of­fi­cials in­stalled lower and larger “wrong way” and “do not en­ter” signs on free­way ramps in 2015 in an ef­fort to curb the prob­lem. Dal­las Ham­mit, a state en­gi­neer and deputy di­rec­tor for trans­porta­tion, said the new pro­gram also will help iden­tify the ramps where wrong-way driv­ers are more prone to en­ter the free­way. The sys­tem will al­low law en­force­ment to re­spond to wrong-way driv­ing cases even faster than it al­ready does, El­liott said. “It re­ally boils down to no­ti­fi­ca­tion and early word,” El­liott said.—AP

PHOENIX: This file photo pro­vided by the Ari­zona Depart­ment of Pub­lic Safety shows the man­gled re­mains of cars in­volved in a fa­tal ac­ci­dent on the North­bound In­ter­state 17 in Phoenix, Ari­zona. —AP

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