ARIZONA NEWS

Interstate 17 ramp-meter lights used to warn drivers about wrong-way car

Aug 1, 2018, 4:15 PM | Updated: 7:58 pm
(AP Photo/Matt York)...
(AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Drivers may be tempted to blow through those pesky traffic flow lights at on-ramps along the Interstate 17, but officials with the Arizona Department of Transportation said that those lights could warn them about a wrong-way driver in the area.

Doug Nintzel with the Arizona Department of Transportation told KTAR News 92.3 FM that drivers who see a ramp-meter light stay red for more than a few seconds should not enter the highway, because it could mean that a wrong-way driver has been detected within three miles of the area.

“The ramp meter will turn on in an effort to hold traffic from entering the I-17 until the system no longer detects the vehicle in the area,” he said.

Nintzel said the department wants to make drivers more aware of this part of its pilot wrong-way vehicle detection system, which was launched along the highway in January.

Those lights will stay activated if the system continues to detect the vehicle along the freeway. They will return to their normal mode if the system detects that the wrong-way vehicle is no longer in the area.

However, Nintzel stressed that no system is fool-proof: “We will continue to stress that no system can prevent all crashes.”

The system features 90 thermal detection cameras positioned above exit ramps as well as the mainline of the freeway between the I-10 “Stack” interchange near downtown and the Loop 101 interchange in north Phoenix.

When a wrong-way vehicle enters an off-ramp, the system will trigger an illuminated wrong-way sign in order to get the driver’s attention. It will also alert ADOT’s Traffic Operations Center and the Arizona Department of Public Safety to respond to the area.

It has since detected more than 30 wrong-way vehicles entering I-17 off-ramps and frontage roads. The majority of those drivers have turned around before entering the freeway, but one driver was found on the freeway last month by the system.

Arizona Department of Public Safety staff logged more than 1,700 calls about wrong-way drivers on the freeways and highways last year.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill in March that made driving the wrong way on a freeway while impaired a felony.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Nailea Leon contributed to this report. 

Arizona News

(Courtesy photo/Arizona State Lottery)...
Torrence Dunham

2 Mega Millions tickets worth $10K sold in Arizona as jackpot climbs

Two lucky people in Arizona are $10,000 richer after purchasing winning Mega Millions tickets in Friday's drawing, but the grand prize is still up for grabs and growing.
18 hours ago
(Pixabay Photo)...
KTAR.com

Here are employers who are hiring in metro Phoenix

With businesses opening to full capacity and looking to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, employers in metro Phoenix and Arizona are looking to hire. Here's the list of employers looking for workers.
18 hours ago
(Arizona Humane Society Photo)...
Danny Shapiro

Husky who recovered from serious burns up for adoption in Scottsdale

A husky who has recovered from serious burns after being found as an underweight stray is ready to be taken home from a Scottsdale adoption center.
18 hours ago
(Facebook Photo, File/Phoenix Police Department)...
KTAR.com

Motorcyclist dies after 2-vehicle collision on Baseline Road in Phoenix

A motorcyclist who was rushed to the hospital after a two-vehicle wreck Monday morning in Phoenix has died, authorities said.
18 hours ago
Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates speaks during a May 17 press conference with other county off...
Danny Shapiro

Maricopa County audit deal with Senate a ‘business decision,’ supervisor says

The deal Maricopa County worked out with the Arizona Senate over router access related to the audit of the 2020 election was a "business decision," according to one supervisor.
18 hours ago
Daniel Robinson was last seen in a remote area of Buckeye, Arizona, on June 23, 2021. His SUV was f...
Kevin Stone

Crews searching desert area for Phoenix man find somebody else’s skull

A human skull uncovered during the search for Daniel Robinson in a remote West Valley area is not of the missing Phoenix man, authorities said.
18 hours ago
Interstate 17 ramp-meter lights used to warn drivers about wrong-way car