ADOT’s I-17 thermal camera system helping to detect wrong-way drivers

The first-in-the-nation wrong-way vehicle detection and warning system along the Interstate 17 has proven to be a reliable way to reduce the risks posed by wrong-way drivers, the Arizona Department of Transportation announced Thursday.

The $4 million I-17 pilot system became operational in Jan. 2018 and was initially installed along the I-10 “Stack” interchange and Loop 101, according to a press release.

The thermal camera system has since detected more than 100 wrong-way drivers primarily on exit ramps and frontage roads along the Black Canyon Freeway.

ADOT said most of the drivers either turned around or pulled off the main roads once they had been detected.

The alert system aims to obtain drivers’ attention via internally illuminated wrong-way signs that utilize flashing LED lights.

Immediate alerts are also sent to law enforcement once a wrong-way vehicle has been detected. ADOT said the alerts provide faster response times by officers compared to 911 calls from Valley drivers.