Washington highways work to prevent wrong-way crashes

It seems so simple. Most divided highways in the United States have Wrong Way signs that alert drivers if they are traveling in the wrong direction, as if having to dodge cars coming at you at 70 miles per hour was not a solid clue. Still, injuries and fatalities in wrong-way collisions happen all the time.

The problem has been around since the interstate system was created in the 1950′s and persists today. The Federal Highway Administration states that an average of 350 people per year are killed in wrong-way collisions, equalling out to about one per day. This is despite signage and lane restrictions.

Even sober drivers can make mistakes and end up in the wrong direction. The easiest way to avoid a crash is to simply stop and turn around once you realize you’re in the wrong lane.

In order to alert drivers some highways are trying new ways to detect and stop wrong-way drivers. A section of Interstate 5 in northern Washington uses electromagnetic sensors embedded in the pavement on highway ramps to detect when a driver enters the highway in the wrong direction. When detected, it activates cameras int he area to record and flashes wrong-way signs to alert the driver.

Entering the highway in the wrong direction does not have to be a fatal mistake. As always, keeping a cool head and safely stopping before turning around is the easiest way to drive away safely.

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