NDOT currently places “Wrong Way” signs on all freeway ramps to notify drivers errantly entering in the wrong direction. As a pilot program, NDOT is installing additional flashing warning signals and detection systems on certain interstate and freeway off-ramps.
How Does the System Work?
The wrong way driver alert system uses radar and closed-circuit cameras to automatically detect vehicles entering in the wrong direction, activating two sets of red flashing wrong-way signs on the ramp. As a highly-visible additional indication to stop drivers from entering the wrong way, the first set of signs stands four feet high instead of the standard seven-foot sign height to more readily reach the lower eye level of sleepy or impaired drivers.
Wrong-Way Crash Research
The Transportation Research Board reports an average of 360 deaths nationwide every year due to wrong-way driver crashes. In more than half of wrong-way crashes, wrong-way drivers are impaired by alcohol.
Between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2018, there were 135 wrong-way crashes in Nevada resulting in 22 fatalities. Nevada is one of a handful of state DOTs testing the wrong-way driver detection systems. Preliminary research shows that such systems are 80% effective in stopping wrong-way drivers.
Safe Driving Tips
While wrong-way drivers often drive unpredictably, motorists can help increase their chances of staying safe by driving attentively:
- Buckle up.
- Never drive while impaired or extremely sleepy. Do not allow those you know to drive impaired or sleepy.
- Drive attentively. Continually scan the road ahead so you have time to react to upcoming conditions.
- Do not tailgate. Leave enough space so you have time to react if the vehicle in front of you changes lanes suddenly to avoid a wrong-way driver.
- Stay right at night. The largest number of wrong-way crashes occur at night. Be aware that wrong-way drivers frequently travel in the left, or fast, lane. Because they are driving in the wrong direction, they believe they are actually traveling in the slow lane in an effort to avoid being stopped for speeding.
- If you encounter a wrong-way driver coming toward you, ease your foot off the gas to slow down. After looking to avoid other vehicles next to and behind you, steer away from the wrong-way driver. Dial 911 or *NHP to report the driver once safely off the road and away from the path of the wrong-way vehicle.
- If there is opportunity to do so, flashing your vehicle lights or honking your car horn could alert the wrong-way driver to stop and safely reroute.