UDOT plans to install 20 wrong-way driver detection systems

Feb 13, 2023, 8:30 PM
The Utah Department of Transportation announced Monday it plans to install wrong-way driver detecti...
The Utah Department of Transportation announced Monday it plans to install wrong-way driver detection systems in 20 locations. Photo credit: Chris Thornblad.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Department of Transportation announced Monday that it intends to install 20 new wrong-way driver detection systems. 

According to Tyler Laing, UDOT intelligent transportation systems program manager, the system has been tested out by UDOT over the last few months. According to a press release from UDOT, during the test period, the pilot system in Davis County detected 23 wrong-way drivers. The press release also says all 23 drivers turned around. 

“So, over the last few years, we noticed an uptick in wrong way driving incidents,” Laing said to KSL NewsRadio. “We, as a department, have obviously been very concerned about that and have put our heads together to try and figure out what more can we do to mitigate this issue.”

Laing says what UDOT has come up with is a system they are happy with, and it does two things.

“What this system does is it detects vehicles going in the wrong direction and lights up really bright ‘Wrong Way’ signs to notify them that they are going in the wrong direction,” he said. “It will also send a notification to our traffic operations center that there is a potential wrong-way driver in the area. And our traffic operations center can verify that and take additional action if needed.”

Where will the wrong-way driver detections systems be set up?

Laing says that is something UDOT has been closely examining.

“And obviously, we’d like to have them everywhere because wrong-way driving is so unpredictable,” he said. “You don’t know where it’s going to happen.”

He says UDOT has a priority list of areas.

“And as we get funding, we plan to deploy these systems in those prioritize areas,” he said.

Most of the prioritized areas are in urban areas, according to Laing.

“It does occur more often on freeways, that’s really been our focus,” he said. “Our focus is freeway offramps. That’s where we’ve seen the most occurrence of them That’s where they can be the most dangerous.”

The press release says most of the systems will be set up along I-15 in Salt Lake City. 

What’s the price tag?

Laing says through UDOT’s research and the pilot, each wrong-way driver detection system will cost roughly, $120,000 per offramp.

Last week, the Utah Transportation Commission approved $2.5 million in funding to allow 20 systems to be installed, according to a press release from UDOT.

“And that will be a good start,” Laing said. “We’ve looked at lots of data and information and have prioritized these 20 locations that we want to start out with.”

Other states have done similar things, according to Laing. He says UDOT has consulted with other states on what they have done.

However, Laing says Utah is one of the leading states to confront this problem. 

“We have consulted with other states, but we’re also doing things on our own as well and being pioneers in this area as well,” he said. 

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UDOT plans to install 20 wrong-way driver detection systems