UDOT adding eight more wrong-way driver detection systems

Dec 14, 2023, 3:16 PM | Updated: 6:03 pm

Image of UDOT workers, demonstrating how a wrong way driver detection system works in Salt Lake Cit...

UDOT workers demonstrate how a wrong way driver detection system works in Salt Lake City. (Utah Department of Transportation)

(Utah Department of Transportation)

SALT LAKE CITY — Right now across Utah, there are 15 systems in place to prevent a wrong-way driver from getting very far.

And after multiple wrong-way driving stories in just the last week in Utah, the Utah Department of Transportation announced it will install several more.

“It’s just so terrible for everyone that’s involved,” said UDOT Spokesman John Gleason. “It’s something that for a long time we have wanted to stop.”

How wrong-way driver detection systems work

The systems use radar, high-definition infrared cameras and red “wrong way” warning signs. So if a car uses an off-ramp as an on-ramp, the radar or the cameras detect the driver. That detection then activates the red “wrong way” sign.

“If they miss the first one further up the ramp, there would be another wrong way sign,” Gleason said. 

If the driver continues on the wrong path, the detection system sends an alert to both UDOT and the Utah Highway Patrol.

“So the driver can be tracked and stopped as quickly as possible,” Gleason said.

When UDOT installed the new system in late 2022, it detected and alerted 23 wrong-way drivers. All of them turned around, according to the agency.

How a wrong-way driver situation happens

While impaired driving is often associated with wrong-way accidents, Gleason said there are other reasons a driver might make this mistake.

“There are also people that may just have a few moments of confusion out there on the roads and aren’t doing anything other than just trying to get to where they’re going safely.”

The list below shows the location of existing and planned detection systems.

Despite the detection systems already in place, wrong-way crashes keep happening, including a fatal wrong-way crash last night on I-80.

“It’s it’s such a hard pill to swallow because they’re so senseless and so preventable, Gleason said. “And that’s what we want to do we want to do our part to to try to stop these types of crashes from happening on our roads.”

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UDOT adding eight more wrong-way driver detection systems