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How RIDOT is working to reduce wrong-way crashes

There is perhaps nothing more frightening than the thought of traveling down a divided highway or the interstate only to see a pair of headlights traveling in the wrong direction. Indeed, by the time this imminent danger even registers in a motorist's brain, it may be too late to apply the brakes or even attempt an evasive maneuver.

Sadly, these wrong-way crashes occur with stunning regularity on U.S. roads and highways, and often with fatal consequences. Indeed, statistics show that roughly 360 people lose their lives in the U.S. in wrong-way crashes every year with things like alcohol and driver confusion typically playing a role. Closer to home, there have been ten wrong-way crashes resulting in 13 fatalities over the last eight years here in Rhode Island. 

In recognition of the need to combat this very real danger, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation recently spent nearly $1.4 million to upgrade the signage and road markings at over 200 ramps across the state in order to enhance the distinction between entrance and exit ramps.

Even more impressive, $600,000 was allocated for the installation of wrong-way driver detection systems at 24 locations that both RIDOT and the Rhode Island State Police determined had a elevated risk of wrong-way drivers, including select ramps along Route 4, Route 146, I-195 and I-95 to name a few.

When the sensors in these systems detect a driver is going the wrong way, LED-equipped wrong-way warning signs begin flashing. If the driver fails to stop and turn around, an emergency notification will be sent to both local law enforcement and the state police. In addition, the overhead electronic signs situated atop overpasses will display a warning to motorists in the vicinity.

According to RIDOT, the systems have successfully stopped 47 potential wrong-way driving crashes.

In light of this impressive performance, RIDOT has indicated that it will be installing at least 25 more wrong-way driver detection systems across the state in 2018. While the exact locations are unknown at this point, the agency with once again work with the state police to identify problem areas.

This is an incredibly encouraging development. Here's hoping this sort of equipment because the norm going forward.

If you've been seriously injured or lost a loved one as a result of the negligence of another motorist, please consider speaking with a skilled legal professional to learn more about your options.

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