Washington tests wrong-way warnings

| 1/3/2002

The Washington Department of Transportation will install a new warning system early this year to alert wrong-way drivers who mistake exits for on-ramps. Officials are hopeful the system will reduce the number of serious wrong-way crashes in the state.

The department will install a pair of experimental emergency signs at a freeway ramp in the Seattle-Everett corridor, after studying where the area's wrong-way crashes are occurring. The signs will flash "WRONG WAY" in red if a driver takes a wrong turn, and flashers will blink for a couple of minutes. Cameras record driver behavior.

Each year, there are about 80 wrong-way crashes on the state's freeways and limited-access highways, according to the Seattle Times. Drunken driving, fog, old age, drowsiness or driver impairment from prescription drugs is frequently the cause. A $50,000 grant from the Federal Highway Administration paid for the signs.