The City of Irving is pilot testing a new wrong-way driving detection program (WWDP), a technology that has already prevented a few crashes, reported WFAA.
The program, which the city of Irving is the first to pilot test, uses thermal and infrared sensors built into each intersection to detect when a vehicle is moving against the flow of traffic, according to the City of Irving website.
The website explains that the WWDP sensors “detect when a vehicle has entered the intersection moving with the flow of traffic, as well as when a vehicle enters the roadway against the flow of traffic.” The North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) has installed detection cameras along SH 161 and 121, at present.
The cameras send email alerts to authorities during the detection process. Afterward, police are dispatched to the area, and other drivers receive a warning on highway signs.
The new technology comes thanks to a grant in the amount of $164,430.
In September 2020, the NTTA initiated a similar pilot program in Plano to detect wrong-way drivers. The system used thermal cameras and alerted drivers headed into oncoming traffic with red lights that flashed while mounted on signs with large letters reading “Wrong Way.”
NTTA representative Michael Rey told WFAA that people who drive the wrong way on highways are usually impaired in some form or fashion, which is why detecting wrong-way drivers as quickly as possible is of utmost importance.
In the two months since the technology was installed, four wrong-way drivers have been detected.
Deaths caused by wrong-way collisions are increasingly becoming more common in Texas, according to a report by AAA Texas. Just over 2,000 people died in wrong-way crashes between 2015 and 2018 –about 500 deaths per year- — up 34% from 2010 to 2014 when there were 375 annually.
“Wrong-way crashes on divided highways are often fatal as they are typically head-on collisions,” Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, said in the AAA report. “And unfortunately, as the data shows, fatalities from these crashes are on the rise.”
Earlier this week, The Dallas Express reported that Dallas Police Officer Jacob Arellano was killed by a wrong-way driver while driving on northbound Spur 408 near West Kiest Boulevard.