YOLO COUNTY (CBS13) Wrong-way drivers are a problem the state has been facing for decades.
Wrong-way driver detection is the latest technology Caltrans is using to combat accidents and deaths by wrong-way drivers.
The program launched last February around Sacramento, after more than a dozen people died in 2016.
“An average of 35 drivers were involved in fatalities due to wrong-way drivers, now that’s dropped down to around 26,” said Dennis Keaton, a spokesman for Caltrans.
That decrease in wrong-way driver deaths has been stable since the ‘90s. Keaton says the reason behind the downward trend is advancements in road technology most recently with a wrong-way detection system.
“The enlarged signs, the more visible signs, and reflector lights, as well as cameras that are able to detect them,” Keaton explained.
Caltrans launched the pilot program around Sacramento last February in an effort to combat wrong-way driver accidents and deaths. Large signs and sensors have been installed around several on and off-ramps along I-80 and Highway 50.
We wanted to know how successful the program has been over the past year at preventing accidents and deaths from wrong-way drivers.
“On 35 occurrences where the CHP was called out to a scene where we believed there was a wrong way driver, those drivers were pulled over and no collisions took place,” Keaton said.
Keaton says that’s 35 or more lives spared because of the program. Wrong-way detection has been placed at five different locations around Yolo County, but none along Interstate 5, where some locals say there’s a problem with wrong-way drivers.
Keaton says CalTrans may expand the program to I-5, but the grassy median is already a safety measure, he says.
“That space in between both directions allows for a motorist to correct themselves when they realize they are traveling in the wrong direction.”
But not in the case of Sunday morning’s deadly crash, where six people were killed instantly when a wrong-way driver crossed over to the Northbound lanes of I-5.
UC Davis is doing an independent study to determine whether the detection technology should be installed across the state, including along I-5. Those findings could come out later this year.