NDOT activating Wrong-Way Driver Detection System on I-80 this week

Published: Nov. 18, 2019 at 9:09 AM PST
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Brief overnight ramp closures will take place on Interstate 80 west of Reno as the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) activates new wrong-way driver detection systems.

NDOT says individual I-80 freeway ramps between Keystone Avenue and the California state line will intermittently be closed for up to four hours weeknights between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. the evening of Nov. 17 through the morning of Nov. 22. No two consecutive ramps will be closed at the same time.

NDOT currently places “Wrong Way” signs on all freeway ramps to let wrong-way drivers know they are going in the wrong direction.

As a pilot program, NDOT is installing additional flashing warning signals and detection systems on interstate ramps west of Reno. NDOT installed a similar system earlier this year on U.S. 395 in the North Valleys. The system uses radar and closed-circuit cameras to automatically detect vehicles entering in the wrong direction, activating two sets of red flashing wrong-way signs on the ramp to alert and help motorists safely turn around.

The Transportation Research Board reports an average of 360 deaths nationwide every year due to crashes involving wrong-way drivers. Between January 1, 2005 and January 1, 2015, there were 409 wrong-way crashes in Nevada resulting in 75 deaths.

Nevada is one of a handful of states DOTs testing the wrong-way driver detection systems. Preliminary research shows that such systems are 80% effective in stopping wrong-way drivers.

While wrong-way drivers often drive unpredictably, motorists can help increase safety by driving attentively:

  • Buckle up.
  • Never drive while impaired or extremely sleepy. Do not allow those you know to drive impaired or sleepy.
  • Drive attentively. Continually scan the road ahead so you have time to react to upcoming conditions.
  • Do not tailgate. Leave enough space so you have time to react if the vehicle in front of you changes lanes suddenly to avoid a wrong-way driver.
  • Stay right at night. The largest number of wrong-way crashes occur at night. Be aware that wrong-way drivers frequently travel in the left, or fast, lane. Because they are driving in the wrong direction, they believe they are actually traveling in the slow lane in an effort to avoid being stopped for speeding.
  • If you encounter a wrong-way driver coming toward you, ease your foot off the gas to slow down. After looking to avoid other vehicles next to and behind you, steer away from the wrong-way driver. Dial 911 or *NHP to report the driver once safely off the road and away from the path of the wrong-way vehicle.
  • If there is opportunity to do so, flashing your vehicle lights or honking your car horn could alert the wrong-way driver to stop and safely reroute.
Copyright KOLO-TV 2019

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