A collaborative effort is underway in hopes of addressing wrong-way driving incidents and improve safety.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is working with Michigan State Police and the Southeast Michigan Transportation Operations Center to identify and ultimately stop wrong way incidents. Michigan State Police say crashes involving a wrong-way driver are usually fatal because of the speed, and there have been eight fatalities in the last five years. Because of the unpredictability of wrong-way crashes, the Center has been tracking reports of wrong-way drivers and recording frequent locations of wrong-way entry with the help of MSP. Incidents are then reviewed in the field by a diverse team of engineers to determine what countermeasures, if any, are appropriate.

MSP Special Enforcement Section Commander Lt. Michael Shaw says the wrong way collisions are horrific every time and it’s almost a guaranteed fatality for one of the passengers, if not everyone in the entire crash, which is why it’s so important to try and eliminate them. Shaw says imagine driving at freeway speeds and seeing a set of headlights coming right at you - that’s why they advise motorists to stay out of the left lane except for passing. He says the majority of time, the wrong way driver actually thinks they’re in the right lane of travel and going in the right direction but it’s vice versa. However, if someone does find themselves in the situation, Shaw says don’t immediately jerk and swerve because a vehicle could be in the next lane. He advises to start doing some controlled breaking, slowly turn the wheel, look around and get out of the way, let the wrong-way driver go by and then call 911 so police can attempt to stop the driver.

The overall goal of recent efforts is to reduce the number of wrong way driving incidents that occur between July 1st, 2017 and June 30th, 2018 by 20% when compared to the previous year. Various steps are being taken to do that and M-DOT has instituted a protocol to alert motorists on electronic message signs that someone is going the wrong way, so other drivers can be aware. MDOT is placing wrong-way arrow markings on freeway ramps and has installed detection cameras for the earliest possible alerts of wrong-way drivers. Other measures include a lane separator system composed of plastic curb and reflective panels, which physically blocks the wrong-way movement.

M-DOT has created an informational video about the efforts to reduce wrong-way incidents and crashes. The link is provided. MDOT photo. (JM)