Arizona Wrong-Way Drivers, Recent Prevention Efforts

On April 14, 2017, a wrong way driver caused another crash, on I-17, that killed Karli and Kelsey Richardson, sisters, and the driver.

The driver had a blood alcohol content level of .25 percent, three times the legal limit.

A blood alcohol level between .16 and .3 percent qualifies as severe impairment with effects including dangerously impaired driving skills and decision making abilities.

The driver drove almost six miles the wrong way before crashing into the Richardsons’ vehicle. He was also driving without headlights. Karli, 20, and Kelsey, 18, were driving to see the sunrise at the Grand Canyon.

Arizona transportation officials are moving forward with a pilot program that will use thermal camera technology, to curb wrong way drivers. The detection system will illuminate a sign that notifies the wrong way driver and alert authorities.

It is expected that cameras will be installed between Interstate 10 and Loop 101 interchanges on I-17 by the end of November.

The new program will also help identify the ramps where wrong-way drivers are more prone to enter the freeway.

DPS states that 956 incidents involving wrong-way drivers have been reported this year, more than 80% are impaired.

Lower and larger “wrong way” and “do not enter” signs have also been installed on freeway ramps.