What Kentucky is doing to prevent wrong-way crashes on interstate

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet received $5.14 million in federal funds to improve highway safety on Interstates through innovative solutions to prevent wrong-way crashes.

The announcement came a day after a pickup truck driving the wrong way down Interstate 65 in Louisville resulted in the death of one person and sent three others to the hospital

“Wrong-way driving is a major safety challenge, not only in Kentucky, but also throughout the United States,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “These funds will allow us to use innovative video technology to help monitor and bolster safety on corridors prone to these types of incidents.”

Kentucky’s Wrong Way Driving and Integrated Safety Technology System will use cutting-edge computing and video processing to implement a pilot program aimed at detecting and deterring wrong-way incidents by alerting the wrong-way driver, other drivers and emergency responders. Additionally, the system will improve existing intelligent transportation systems to monitor and detect other safety concerns related to pedestrians, debris and halted vehicles on the roadway.

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“Improving highway safety is a core focus of the Transportation Cabinet,” said KYTC Secretary Jim Gray. “These funds will allow the KYTC to utilize the latest in technological advancements to help prevent crashes, injuries and fatalities on our roadways.”

Plans for the Wrong Way Driving and Integrated Safety Technology system consist of four elements:

  1. Detection System – Identifies wrong-way incidents and other safety concerns in real time
  2. Deterrent System – Activates warnings designed to discourage the wrong-way drivers
  3. Alert System – Notifies correct direction travelers and emergency responders
  4. Mainline Monitoring System – Identifies mainline safety concerns (pedestrians, debris, disabled vehicles, etc.)

Existing digital and roadway signage will be integrated into a comprehensive system that will include additional signs, cameras, sensors, and other equipment purchased with the grant funds. Locations will be identified based on crash history and ramp design on Interstate ramps in Fayette and Jefferson counties as most wrong-way crashes occur in these areas, with the potential to expand to other counties throughout the state.

“Roadway infrastructure improvements are part of a comprehensive effort to curb these tragic events,” said Secretary Gray.  “In addition to implementing this new technological system, we’ll continue researching statewide opportunities to address wrong-way crashes, such as striping and signage.  While our existing signage and markings meet federal requirements, we’re looking at how to enhance visibility and uniformity at every off-ramp.”

Between 2015 and 2020, there were 88 wrong-way driving crashes in Kentucky where a driver used an off-ramp in the wrong direction.  These 88 crashes resulted in 16 fatalities and 27 serious injuries.

Funds were provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as part of an Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) program.

Kentucky is one of 10 grant recipients from FHWA’s  ATCMTD program this year awarded grants valued at $45.2 million to 10 projects using advanced intelligent transportation systems technologies that will improve mobility and safety, provide multimodal transportation options and support underserved communities.