State traffic officials showed off new technology designed to stop drivers in the wrong direction from hitting the highway.
That’s because the state has seen a huge increase in the number of fatalities caused by crashes the wrong way.
The police showed us how the new technology works. When a black SUV entered the wrong ramp on Interstate 84 in Southsington, a red light flashed to let drivers know they were going the wrong way.
“There’s a camera in the sky, and if it detects a vehicle is going in the wrong direction, it activates these lights,” said Josh Morgan of the CT Department of Transportation.
The lights were placed on the “Wrong Way” sign. This is part of a pilot program aimed at addressing the issue.
Officials used $20 million from the state budget to launch the program. One state lawmaker said the money was well spent.
“This will have a major impact on saving lives,” the senator said. John Fon Farah (D-Hartford) said.
DOT is focusing on installing the system at high-risk intersections across the state where collisions could occur.
“Looked at the prevalence of nightlife, bars, restaurants, hotels that might drive after get off work,” Morgan said.
State officials say the plan is even more critical now, with the Department of Transportation saying 12 wrongful crashes have killed 22 people so far this year, more than the previous three years combined.
“We get multiple calls a week reporting wrong drivers. No highway is immune,” Sgt. Christine Jeltema of the Connecticut State Police said.
State troopers say the vast majority of wrongful driving is drunk or otherwise impaired. They urge the community to make informed choices.
“If someone goes out with their friends for the night and they’re drinking, we ask that please use a carpool program, have a designated driver, or stay put if you need to,” Jeltema said.
DOT said it plans to install the system at seven additional locations by the end of this year, with 16 more to be installed next year through contractors.