I-17 Wrong Way Driver Detection and Warning System Pilot

Phoenix, Arizona

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, wrong-way driving is responsible for 300 to 400 fatalities each year. Agencies across the country are considering several strategies to help lower this number, including intelligent transportation solutions. Michael Baker used this approached by designing the country’s first-of-its-kind wrong way driver detection system for the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) along I-17 in Phoenix, Ariz.

Illuminated “Wrong Way” signs activate to attract the attention of the driver when traveling in the wrong direction. Freeway mainline sensors and interchange sensors were also installed to improve detection ability and response time to wrong way driving events by alerting agencies or law enforcement officials much faster than waiting for 911 calls from other drivers. The ultimate goal of the project is improving motorist safety and reducing impacts of wrong way accidents.

The project originally began with an accelerated schedule to complete the design within three months, but the timeline was further accelerated to two months following two high-profile wrong way fatal accidents within one week. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey gave ADOT the directive to make the system its highest priority.


“The wrong way driver detection and warning system that we put in place is an integrated system that covers 15 interchanges. It may be the first of its kind in the nation, further exemplifying how Michael Baker is breaking new ground.”

Smitha K.
Project Engineer

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