Arizona improves crash-data gathering and adds new ‘Wrong Way’ signs to I-17 program


A grant from the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) is helping the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) collect fuller and more accurate vehicle crash data that will help transportation engineers, law enforcement and researchers examine trends and causes of fatalities and serious injuries.

The US$389,520 grant provides critical financial support for ADOT’s Crash Records Unit, including annual licensing fees to use Traffic and Criminal Software (TraCS), a data collection and management tool. Through this grant money, ADOT provides access to TraCS to Arizona law enforcement agencies at no cost. Under state law ADOT is responsible for compiling crash data and creating comprehensive reports that government agencies, non-profit groups and other entities use to improve traffic safety, including annual Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts reports.

“TraCS is considered to be one of the best software platforms in the nation for managing electronic forms associated with traffic stops and crash reports,” explained ADOT’s director, John Halikowski.

“Support from the GOHS and director Alberto Gutier is invaluable to collecting crash data and identifying trends, helping make Arizona’s roads safer.”

One of the key projects that will benefit from the new data analysis will be on the 15 mile-long (24km) long stretch of Interstate 17 where ADOT is installing a first-in-the-nation wrong-way detection and warning prototype that uses thermal cameras. ADOT crews have recently added large ‘Wrong Way’ signs on I-17 bridges and other structures, facing in the direction of potential wrong-way drivers.

The signs, each measuring 8 x 5 feet (2.4 x 1.5m), are another way the agency is testing countermeasures to get the attention of wrong-way drivers on the route. The 26 new signs, 13 in each direction, have been installed to face the wrong direction of travel and are mounted above the left (outside) lanes of the freeway, because research has shown that wrong-way drivers, most of whom are impaired, are most likely to be traveling in them.

ADOT’s pilot I-17 wrong-way vehicle alert system in Phoenix is scheduled to be fully operational early next year. Thermal cameras will detect wrong-way vehicles on I-17 off-ramps, alerting ADOT and the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS), posting warning messages to drivers traveling in the right direction along the freeway, and activating an internally illuminated, flashing ‘Wrong Way’ sign on the ramp as a way to get the driver’s attention. DPS statistics show that dispatchers had taken 698 reports of wrong way drivers in the first five months of 2017.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).