The Arizona Department of Transportation's wrong-way driver detection system successfully identified two wrong-way drivers this weekend. Early Sunday morning a driver entered the Loop 101 exit ramp at 75th Avenue and drove east in the westbound lanes. Police were able to stop the vehicle near Grand Avenue and eventually arrested the driver on suspicion of DUI.
A second wrong-way driver was picked up entering the wrong side of the Loop 101 at Bell Road in Peoria. In this case, the driver apparently realized he or she was heading in the wrong direction and turned around in the exit ramp. Police were not able to find that vehicle after receiving the wrong-way driver notification. Nobody was injured in either of the two incidents over the weekend.
The wrong-way driver system on the Loop 101 is a bit different than the one being installed on the I-17. Thermal cameras at Loop 101 intersections had been in place for some time and simply needed a software update to include wrong-way detection. Monday was the first time transportation officials acknowledged their new capabilities.
The I-17 system, however, is being built from scratch. In addition to notifying ADOT and informing drivers on electronic freeway signs, the I-17 system will also include signs on exit ramps that immediately light up and flash if a wrong-way driver is detected by cameras. The light show is meant to get the driver's attention before they get up to speed on the freeway. Freeway cameras ahead of the wrong way driver will also turn towards the driver to better track the vehicle.
Once complete, the I-17 system will stretch from I-10 to the Loop 101 in Phoenix. It is expected to be up and running in early 2018.