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UDOT looks at technology to curb wrong-way drivers on highways

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Posted at 10:28 PM, Dec 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-22 00:28:27-05

SALT LAKE CITY - As wrong-way driving accidents continue to result in injuries on Utah interstates, the Utah Department of Transportation begins to look toward technology to help minimize the damage the wrong-way drivers create.

“The radar we have on the roads right now will tell us how fast they are going but not what direction," said Joe Walker, Communications Director for UDOT.

Walker said radar sensors are already placed on most entrance and exit ramps on Utah interstates but they only detect car speed. A local company in Provo that is helping them with the technology.

"If we can use existing technology and just tweak it a little bit so that we can determine not just the speed but the direction and then we can get it out to highway patrol that much faster,” Walker added.

Utah Highway Patrol officials say statistically speaking, wrong-way numbers have stayed relatively level the past three years, showing no increase. However, troopers say those numbers include small one-lane state roads.

Troopers say, in actuality, the numbers of wrong-way drivers on interstates is as high as they've ever seen.

If UDOT decides to move forward with the sensor plans, the sensors would trigger an exact location the driver entered the highway in the wrong direction.  From there, they could put 'wrong way' signs up on their electronic board.

Walker knows the problem won't cut down on accidents entirely.

"But we can find ways to let others know someone’s going the wrong way and curtail the impact that person has,” Walker said.

Walker added UDOT will then consider technology to notify the driver if he or she has entered the highway in the wrong direction.