Arizona bill would use spike strips to prevent wrong-way drivers

(Flickr photo)

PHOENIX — An Arizona state representative has introduced a bill that would install traffic-control spikes on state highways in order to prevent wrong-way drivers.

House Bill 2539 was introduced by Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita on Tuesday.

The bill would allow the Arizona Department of Transportation to install and maintain traffic control spikes on “portions of a highway that have high potential for wrong-way drivers.”

Ugenti-Rita first floated the idea for this type of legislation in August 2017, after a wrong-way accident on the Interstate 17 near Sunset Point injured four people.

When she first introduced the idea for the bill, nine people had been killed due to wrong-way drivers. By the end of 2017, the Arizona Department of Public Safety logged 1,721 incidents of wrong-way drivers across Arizona.

Related: Ducey wants felony punishments for wrong-way drivers in Arizona

But the Arizona Department of Public Transportation has said in the past that spike strips are not the answer to stopping wrong-way drivers because they are unreliable for cars travelling fast speeds and can do more harm than good.

The transportation department is already working on getting a system in place for detecting wrong-way drivers.

The state began construction on a wrong-way driver detection system last year. It was approved by the state Transportation Board in June and then accelerated by Ducey after a series of wrong way accident-related deaths occurred in the same month.

The detection system, once installed, will cause lights to flash at wrong-way drivers to get them to stop. They will also alert authorities and make traffic cameras turn toward the driver so the vehicle can be tracked.

They are expected to be operational this year.

House Bill 2539 has currently been assigned to a number of committees.