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When you start moving a ton or two at 70 miles per hour, it's a destructive force. And yet, thousands of Arkansans manage to handle it okay on the way to work or school. Things work, so long as everyone plays by the rules.

But it just takes one person driving the wrong way to cause untold damage.

In Arkansas, data shows 25 wrong-way crashes took place in 2018. Can you imagine the terror of driving down Interstate 40 and seeing a pair of headlights coming directly at you at 70 miles per hour? Some may not have to imagine, because they were somehow lucky enough to live through it.

Those 25 wrong-way crashes were almost double the number that occurred in the previous year, according to reporting by Noel Oman. Those crashes came despite $3 million spent on markings and signs at all interstate exit ramps designed to deter wrong-way drivers. Apparently inebriated people don't pay attention to road signs or much else.

So now we're back to the drawing board. Maybe that's not a bad thing. It seems Arizona has developed a pretty good strategy for this. Here's more from Arkansas' Newspaper:

"In the early morning hours of Sept. 10, 2017, a thermal camera on Interstate 17 in Phoenix detected a driver entering the freeway the wrong way. Arizona's Traffic Operations Center received a wrong-way driver alert at 3:14 a.m., according to a summary. State troopers at the center immediately began tracking the wrong-way driver with cameras along the route, and they radioed location updates to troopers on the road.

"Within two minutes, dynamic message boards were activated to alert other drivers that a wrong-way driver was heading their way and that they needed to exit the freeway. Within three minutes, the first 911 call about the wrong-way driver was logged. Within five minutes of the alert, troopers radioed the police in the city of Peoria, Ariz., for assistance.

"Within six minutes, troopers spotted the wrong-way driver. And within seven minutes of the alert, spike strips were deployed at Peoria Avenue. The wrong-way driver was ultimately taken into custody--six miles after entering the freeway--and was charged with driving while intoxicated."

If that ain't efficiency, we don't know what is. So let's get a move on testing such a system here in Arkansas. Enough people already confuse AZ for AR when it comes to state abbreviations. We might as well have the same wrong-way driver detection system.

The one thing we know so far about all this is what we've tried so far doesn't work. So let's get Arizona on the phone. They've made the Wild West less wild. In a good way.

Editorial on 01/11/2020

Print Headline: Drawing board


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