New Technology: Stopping wrong-way drivers before they kill - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

New Technology: Stopping wrong-way drivers before they kill

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) - The number of Americans killed annually in wrong way crashes has increased more than 38 percent over the past five years.

Wrong way crashes are 50 times more likely to be deadly compared to all crashes. Now, Caltrans is investing in technology to help prevent them.

In January as part of a pilot program, Caltrans placed flashing signs and cameras near the Interstate-15 and University Avenue ramp to try and prevent wrong way driver crashes.

In Arizona, a high-tech program includes thermal cameras were installed at on-ramps along Interstate-17 to immediately spot wrong way drivers entering the freeway.

When triggered, the alarm sounds in the Department of Transportation operations center. It brings up the camera and alerts police to the wrong way driver's location.

Within seconds, freeway sign boards warn, "Wrong way driver ahead, exit freeway."

"The majority of the collisions that happen wrong way are impaired drivers, said Caltrans Division Chief, Gerard Chadergian.

Chadergian said Caltrans is watching Arizona's program, and if possible, the technology could soon be reality in San Diego. Caltrans said they work with other states to see what works and what does not.

Besides cameras, Caltrans has installed red reflective markers on the back sides of the "Botts' Dots" at 60 locations. The agency said they have already noticed a reduction in the number of wrong way drivers at those locations.

According to Caltrans, on average there are 23 deadly wrong way crashes each year in California.

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