Editor: While we wholeheartedly agree that wrong-way driving is a critical challenge facing all of Arizona and one that is driven by the societal problem of impaired driving, your June 2 editorial (Our View: Arizona needs a statewide solution to fight wrong-way driver problem) inaccurately represents the Arizona Department of Transportation’s efforts as well as the scope of the problem.
Contrary to your editorial, wrong-way driving is not “a uniquely Arizona problem.”
While it doesn’t lessen the devastating effects these crashes have had in Arizona or ADOT’s commitment to reducing the risk from wrong-way drivers, the unfortunate fact is that communities across the nation are facing the tragic consequences of wrong-way driving, and Arizona’s experience parallels that of other states.
ADOT and partner agencies are well-aware that wrong-way driving is a problem beyond the Phoenix area. And we have taken action. As it has at many interchanges in the Valley and in the Tucson area, ADOT has installed larger and lower wrong-way signs based on traffic volume and other factors at interchanges elsewhere, including several along Interstate 40 in northwestern Arizona.
Governor Ducey issued a challenge to agencies to combat wrong-way driving, and the detection and warning pilot system ADOT developed and is evaluating on I-17 in Phoenix has other states traveling here to see how Arizona is taking the lead.
Our goals for this thermal camera-based system include expanding the use of components beyond the Valley based on need.
In addition, ADOT’s efforts in recent years have included testing a radar-based wrong-way vehicle detection system at the I-40/US 93 interchange in Kingman and another on I-40 in Holbrook.
While engineering holds promise as part of a response to wrong-way driving that also includes enforcement, it can only reduce the risk of a problem created in most cases by people getting behind the wheel so impaired that they turn their vehicles into weapons.
To combat that, everyone needs to be involved by making the lifesaving decision to not drive impaired and by helping prevent others from doing so.
John S. Halikowski, Director