FORT WORTH -- According to a National Transportation Safety Board report last year, Texas led the nation in wrong-way crashes.
In recent years, the Texas Department of Transportation has experimented with different tools, signs, and techniques to prevent drivers from ending up on the wrong side of the road, but Tarrant County is currently the testing ground for all of them.
A $1.1 million pilot program focused largely around the Interstate 30 and State Highway 360 interchange is in the analysis phase to determine which measures work best for preventing drivers from entering highway ramps where drivers are supposed to exit.
Among the efforts are red “Wrong Way” signs installed earlier this year, which begin flashing LED lights when it detects a vehicle approaching from the wrong direction. Some signs have been lowered and red reflective tape has been added onto the polls so that drivers might be able to see them better.
Most wrong-way crashes occur in hours of darkness, and TxDOT is trying to make the warnings more visible. However, spokesperson Val Lopez said driver responsibility is also a huge part of preventing such crashes.
“What our studies have determined is not only are a majority of wrong-way drivers drunk but profoundly drunk. More than twice the average,” said Lopez. ”Even though we are doing our best to make the system as safe as possible, motorists cannot get behind the wheel if they drink."
TxDOT is analyzing which measures work best and will use them in road projects moving forward. The program also installed censors to notify police and TxDOT operations immediately once a wrong-way driver is spotted.