RIDOT: Wrong-way driving detection system effective in stopping crashes

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Transportation is praising the state’s wrong-way driver detection system for keeping drivers safe on the roads.

According to RIDOT, since its inception last year, the technology prevented crashes where the systems are installed and a total of 47 wrong-way incidents ended safely with no injuries.

“We are extremely pleased with the results of this system,” RIDOT Director Peter Alviti, Jr. said. “Improving highway safety and saving lives is integral to the mission of our Department. Even if the systems only prevented one wrong-way crash and the serious injuries or deaths that could have resulted, this program has proven to be a wise investment.”

While working with members of the Rhode Island State Police, RIDOT identified 24 high-risk locations for possible wrong-way drivers and installed the technology along those stretches.

The technology is present at select ramps along I-95, I-195, Routes 10, 4, 6, and Route 6/10 at Memorial Boulevard in Providence.

The detectors were designed to sense if a driver is traveling in the wrong direction and the system alerts both the driver and RIDOT. When a wrong-way driver is detected, LED lights embedded in wrong-way signs flash at the driver. If the vehicle continues to travel in the wrong direction, state and local authorities are notified. A message is also displayed on the state’s overhead electronic signs on the highways to warn other drivers that the threat is in the area.

“It’s still early. We’d like to get a little more data. Maybe over a two to three year period to see just how effective they are,” said RIDOT managing engineer Bob Rocchio.

According to RIDOT, the detection system cost approximately $600,000 and was part of a larger $2 million investment project, which also included upgrading signage and updating more than 200 ramps throughout the state.

RIDOT told Eyewitness News it sees Rhode Island as a national leader when it comes to this technology.

“We do believe it’s realistic to get the number of fatalities related to crashes down to zero and that’s our goal and we’re not going to stop until we get to that goal,” Rocchio said.

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