The Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan State Police are working together to stop wrong-way driving. MDOT’s Southeast Michigan Transportation Operations Center can send an alert to drivers on roadside message signs.

The Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan State Police are working together to stop wrong-way driving. MDOT’s Southeast Michigan Transportation Operations Center can send an alert to drivers on roadside message signs.

Screenshot from the Michigan Department of Transportation YouTube channel


MDOT and MSP team up to stop wrong-way drivers

By: Bria Brown | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published January 19, 2018

METRO DETROIT — Michigan Department of Transportation engineers within the metro region are focused on reducing wrong-way driving incidents on the freeways in southeast Michigan with the help of the Michigan State Police and MDOT’s Southeast Michigan Transportation Operations Center. 

“The goal is to reduce the number of wrong-way driving incidents that occur between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018, by 20 percent compared to the previous year,” stated MDOT in a Jan. 8 press release.

Adding signage and increasing its visibility are part of the plan, as is constructing physical barriers. 

MDOT Metro Region Traffic Safety Engineer Josh Carey told the Eastsider in an email Jan. 17 about some common factors involved in wrong-way driving incidents.  

“We found that 75 (percent) of the reported wrong-way drivers are between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. This is one contributing factor to making the signs more visible. Also, while we don’t get a chance to get in the head of every wrong-way driver, many of the drivers are under the influence, but occasionally wrong-way driving can occur by drivers unfamiliar with the area, perhaps following a GPS too closely, elderly, etc. All of these contributing factors are why we are trying to increase the visibility of signing, pavement marking and delineation at these exit ramps,” stated Carey. 

Carey explained that after much research, they found that lowering the bottom height on signs can enhance visibility. 

“Lowering the bottom height of the signs bring them closer to the roadway, so they are more visible to drivers. Research has shown that drunk drivers, and even drowsy/sleepy drivers, have a smaller cone of vision, so bringing those signs closer to where they are focusing should increase visibility. Also, to enhance the visibility, we’ve been adding red reflective panels to the signposts, as well as increasing the size of some signs,” he stated. 

“MDOT and MSP are working together closely to identify and ultimately stop wrong-way incidents on freeways. This includes working together to notify motorists during active wrong-way driver situations by posting alerts on roadside message signs. MDOT also is placing wrong-way arrow markings on freeway ramps, and has installed detection cameras for the earliest possible alerts of wrong-way drivers,” the press release states. 

On MDOT’s YouTube channel, Carey and MSP Special Enforcement Section Commander Lt. Michael A. Shaw discuss wrong-way drivers and safety improvements.

Shaw stated in an email to the Eastsider Jan. 18 that results won’t be known immediately. 

“We are hoping this will help reduce traffic crashes. We won’t have any data until the program ends,” stated Shaw.

Shaw also mentioned in the video that when a driver gets into a crash with a wrong-way driver, it is “usually a fatality because of the speed.”

According to Shaw, there have been eight fatalities in the last five years because of wrong-way driving. 

In the video, Carey discussed lane-separating systems, which are physical barriers to help prevent wrong-way drivers.

“Other options to physically block entry would be curbing, barrier wall, or redesigning interchanges so the option to make the incorrect maneuver is eliminated.  We’ve started with the lane-separating system based on cost and installation time. It is much cheaper and easier to install than other, more permanent options,” stated Carey.