Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober

Aug 2, 2019, 11:16 AM | Updated: 12:17 pm

(Facebook Photo/Arizona Department of Public Safety)...

(Facebook Photo/Arizona Department of Public Safety)

(Facebook Photo/Arizona Department of Public Safety)

PHOENIX — After at least six people drove the wrong way on Arizona freeways in less than a week, the director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety says society has to become “outraged” over impaired driving before such incidents will stop.

“I hear all this conversation all over about what do we do with the roadways, and how do we stop this from happening, like somehow this is a mystery,” Col. Frank Milstead told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James & Pamela Hughes Show.

“And it’s not a mystery — we can solve this by keeping impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel.”

Milstead said close to 80% of wrong-way drivers are drunk or high.

“(Drunk driving) has to become socially unacceptable, that people are shunned for being impaired and getting in the car,” he said.

Milstead said that wrong-way incidents in the state are “not an anomaly” compared to the rest of the nation, as populations grow and access to controlled substances has increased.

He said he has been floating the idea of implementing a system of flashing lights to alert drivers to vehicles going the wrong way on freeways.

“I think it’s really simple, if we were just to put like a yellow and blue light and train just a little LED flashing light on a signpost, on overpasses, where we could light up a 10-mile stretch of road literally instantly,” Milstead said.

“And a solid blue light would mean, let’s say, pull over to the right and stop or exit the roadway. If it’s flashing blue, just know that there’s something going on ahead, pay attention, and if it’s blue and yellow, maybe it’s weather, a storm, debris in the roadway.”

The Arizona Department of Transportation has been testing an early warning program with 90 thermal imaging cameras that detect drivers entering freeways on off-ramps.

The agency expects to complete an evaluation of that pilot program in a few months.

Milstead said while detection systems may help save lives, he still believes it’s up to individuals to drive sober.

“There’s all kinds of people that don’t think it’s going to happen to them, but they still buy lottery tickets and that’s one chance in 292 million,” he said.

“I can tell you, you’ve got one chance in about 2,000 about getting in a crash or wrecking your car.”

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Harrison Ward was arrested on April 18, 2024, for his alleged role in a fatal Gilbert crash. (Maric...

Wrong-way driver arrested in Gilbert after fatal crash

A man was arrested in Gilbert on Thursday for his role in a fatal, early morning wrong-way crash, authorities said.

59 minutes ago

Follow @veenstra_david...

David Veenstra

Valley’s ultimate foodie festival returns this weekend with fried chicken, donuts and more

Prepare for a mouthwatering adventure as the Valley's ultimate global-inspired food festival is returning on Saturday to Peoria.

3 hours ago

Mugshot of Phoenix domestic violence suspect Emmanuel Maldonado, who was arrested Thursday, April 1...

Phoenix domestic violence suspect tracked down, arrested after leaving scene with child

A Phoenix domestic violence suspect was arrested Thursday after allegedly assaulting his estranged wife and taking off with one of their children.

4 hours ago

A freeway sign on a poll says South Loop 101. Part of the southbound Loop 101 in Tempe will be clos...

Kevin Stone

East Valley closure tops list of metro Phoenix freeway restrictions this weekend

A full closure in the East Valley tops the list of metro Phoenix freeway restrictions this weekend.

5 hours ago

A conservative lawmaker, Austin Smith, halted his reelection campaign for the Arizona House of Repr...

Associated Press

Arizona GOP lawmaker drops reelection campaign after forgery allegations

Republican Arizona state Rep. Austin Smith halted his reelection campaign after being accused of forging signatures on his petitions.

7 hours ago

Arizonans should make sure their pets and livestock have up-to-date rabies vaccinations, health off...

Balin Overstolz McNair

Arizona wildlife officials warn about rabies threat as temperatures rise

Arizona wildlife officials are issuing a rabies warning as rising temperatures draw more animals out of hiding.

8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober