Safety & Compliance

Washington To Test Wrong-Way Warning Device

January 03, 2002

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The Washington State Department of Transportation is testing experimental emergency signs at a freeway ramp to help prevent vehicles from entering the highway going the wrong way.

Each year, there are about 80 wrong-way crashes on freeways and limited-access highways in the state, reports the Seattle Times.
The test signs will be installed at a freeway ramp in the Seattle-Everett corridor where wrong-way crashes have occurred. The signs will show "Wrong Way" in red if a driver takes a wrong turn, and flashers will blink for a couple of minutes while cameras record what's happening.
Similar signs were installed last summer at the Bow Hill Road interchange with Interstate 5 in Skagit County.
Some are skeptical of the effectiveness of the signs, which cost about $25,000 per ramp. Critics say they will be no deterrent to drunken drivers, who are responsible for many wrong-way crashes. Others fear that seeing signs pointing in their direction could prompt drivers to believe they're going the right way.
Another experiment started last year in the Yakima Valley, where cameras at Toppenish record driver movements at the eastbound and westbound exits of Interstate 82. Over 10 years there were nine wrong-way crashes within 10 miles of that interchange, most of them fatal.

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