Arkansas awards $4.1 million for project to reduce wrong-way driving

Red and white signs saying Do Not Enter and Wrong Way

Last year I wrote an article about Arkansas highway officials seeking $2.8 million in improvements to prevent wrong-way crashes. In the good news category, the state recently awarded a $3.1 million contract in an effort to reduce and prevent wrong-way driving accidents. The contract went to Ewing Signal Construction LLC of Nixa, Mo.

The Arkansas state Highway and Transportation Department is required by state law to evaluate all wrong-way driving crashes. The most recent evaluation was completed in 2014.

Improvements to be made to reduce wrong-way driving in Arkansas

The contractor will complete several projects in an effort to reduce wrong-way driving in Arkansas. They include:

  • Replacing all 4,428 current “Wrong Way, Do Not Enter” and “One Way” signs at exit ramps with signs that have brighter sheeting;
  • The new signs will be mounted at a lower height, enabling them to be better illuminated by headlights, while making them more visible at night;
  • Placement of more noticeable wrong-way pavement arrows, directional arrows, yield lines and stop lines;
  • Installation of reflectors on top of small poles, called “ramp delineators, to be placed on both sides of the off-ramps. Drivers exiting in the correct direction will see white delineators on the right and amber delineators on the left. Drivers going in the wrong direction will see red delineators on both sides of the ramp. (In Pulaski County, there are 70 off-ramps that can be inadvertently entered from the wrong direction.)

 Statistics of wrong-way driving

According to various reputable studies, here are the statistics of wrong-way driving.

  • In 2014 in Arkansas, there were eight crashes without fatalities, but with two serious injuries.
  • Of those eight crashes, seven of them occurred at night and five involved drunk drivers.
  • Between 2009 and 2013, there were 64 wrong-way accidents in Arkansas with 20 fatalities.
  • There are 300 to 400 fatal wrong-way crashes annually in the U.S. Although they only account for 1 percent of total traffic fatalities, they are oftentimes head-on fatal collisions or sideswipe collisions occurring at high speeds. Injuries from these types of accidents tend to be more serious than other motor vehicle accidents.
  • Wrong-way crashes nationwide occur most often between midnight and 5 a.m. on weekends, with more than 50% of the drivers under the influence of alcohol.

I welcome these changes that I believe are necessary to ensure safe exiting from highway ramps throughout the state. You can do your part by not driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, by not allowing yourself to get distracted while driving, and letting someone else drive if you have difficulty seeing at night.

Let’s all stay safe out there.

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