New technology to crack down on wrong-way drivers

Wrong way drivers TXDOT.PNG

SAN ANTONIO - As more and more drivers get their licenses and take to the roads, the signage and technology the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) uses to keep roads safe appears to be getting better.

But more needs to be done when it comes to wrong-way drivers.

Texas A&M's transportation institute revealed there were 252 wrong-way crashes statewide in Texas, with 143 ending with serious injuries or death.

The news is not all bad though.

"Since 2011 we’ve detected and helped stop 67 wrong way drivers," said John Gianotti, a transportation engineer with TXDOT.

While Gianotti feels good about those successful stops, he also knows they have a long way to go.

"When you have a wrong way collision with a head on you have very bad outcomes and very serious injuries," Gianotti said.

San Antonio police department's call logs reported 575 wrong-way events in 2016. Now instead of just responding to a 911 call reporting a wrong-way driver, a detection system is being installed.

Four ramps have systems that are operation. Giannotti said they hope to finish the rest in the next 60 days.

"Our new system is comprised of three radars and a camera," Gianotti said. "The first two radars will detect a wrong way driver coming down the exit ramp .

Both radars have to agree, then they'll communicate with a third radar behind them for detection and confirmation. At that point a picture is taken.

"We will also get a text message here at transguide and an email with the same info," Gianotti said. "A second email comes with the picture."

A transguide camera can be turned to try and pinpoint the exact location of the wrong-way driver.

Highway 90 was chosen for the first phase, even though it's not one of the top three hot spots for wrong-way driver. Gianotti said it has consistently been a roadway where drivers end up going the wrong way.

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