ADOT nationally recognized for its wrong-way driver detection pilot system on I-17


PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) received runner-up for the Best Transportation Systems Management and Operation Project (Creative Solution) for its pilot system that detects wrong-way drivers on a 15-mile stretch of the Interstate 17.

The National Operations Center of Excellence, which is a national organization dedicated to the management of safe highways, presented the honor to ADOT recently. ADOT was also awarded the Best Transportation Systems Management and Operation Project Award for reducing minor crashes on the westbound US 60 by adjusting lanes and signs.

“ADOT’s efforts to leverage technology and develop innovative solutions are bringing about real, measurable improvements to roadway safety,” Governor Doug Ducey said. “Arizona will continue to focus on how we can constantly improve the safety and reliability [of] our roadways.”

The pilot system uses thermal cameras to alert ADOT and the Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) about wrong-way incidents, so law enforcement can respond faster rather than relying on emergency calls from drivers on the highways.

According to ADOT, since January 2018 the system, which is the first of its kind in the nation, has detected more than 40 wrong-way vehicles, and most drivers turned around on ramps without entering the highway.

“The system uses decision-support software to quickly alert other drivers to the danger through overhead message boards and ramp meter lights that hold on red to warn drivers not to enter the freeway. On off-ramps, self-illuminated wrong-way signs with flashing red LEDs attempt to get the attention of wrong-way drivers, most of whom are impaired,” stated a press release from ADOT about the technology used in the system.

The wrong-way system also won a Government Innovation Award from the technology magazine GCN.

“Innovative approaches that better manage our infrastructure and incorporate cutting-edge technology are why we reorganized in 2015 to create a Transportation Systems Management and Operations division,” ADOT Director John Halikowski said. “At the heart of this is a commitment to safety and to creating the most reliable transportation system in the nation.”

The National Operations Center of Excellence is a partnership of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Institute for Transportation Engineers and the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, with support from the Federal Highway Administration.