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North Texas Explores Wrong-Way Driver Detection and Alert Technology

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Wrong Way Sign
Photo: Elaine with Grey Cats

Wrong-way crashes are terrifying incidents. That’s why the North Texas Tollway Authority and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute are working together to help drivers manage these potentially catastrophic collisions.

Every year, Texas roadways see about 240 wrong-way drivers, and in October 2019 alone, wrong-way crashes lead to two crashes and three fatalities. To combat these tragedies, Texas officials have turned to both basic solutions and cutting-edge technology.

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Potential solutions

According to a study in San Antonio by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, 72 percent of wrong-way driving incidents occur at night. To counter this, the researchers installed solar-powered “Wrong Way” signs equipped with flashing LEDs. This simple, affordable, easy-to-implement solution curbed wrong-way driving by 40 percent. That inspired the Texas Department of Transportation to introduce flashing signs to other major metropolitan areas, like Fort Worth.

But that’s not the only method that the Texas A&M Transportation Institute has considered. According to TTI Research Engineer Melisa Finley, connected vehicle technology could soon play a leading role in preventing traffic tragedies. With this hypothetical technology, if one vehicle detects a wrong-way driver, it could alert the wrong-way driver, pass the information along to a traffic management center, and warn other right-way drivers about the incoming danger via in-vehicle messages.

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TTI and the North Texas Tollway Authority are currently exploring the advantages and limitations of such systems.

According to Michael Rey of the NTTA, the two organizations are trying to see if their systems can communicate. While many technical details still need to be sorted our regarding vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-traffic-center communication, the two Texan teams plan to begin testing this technology in early 2020.