Each year across the United States, wrong-way driving (WWD) incidents cause hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries on high-speed, divided freeways. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, although such collisions are relatively infrequent, they are more likely than other types of crashes to result in fatalities and serious injuries.
In an ICT project (R27-090) sponsored by the Illinois Department of Transportation, researchers from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville investigated factors related to wrong-way driving by examining data in Illinois from 2004 through 2009. The research team found that the majority of WWD incidents occurred between 12 midnight and 5 a.m. and that approximately 60% of involved drivers were impaired by alcohol or drugs. The full project report, published in October 2012, is available here.
An essential part of the project was to find ways to reduce WWD incidents. This past May, ICT and IDOT published Guidelines for Reducing Wrong-Way Crashes on Freeways. The researchers compiled the guidebook by reviewing previous studies, assessing current practices, and examining national and state design standards and manuals that pertain to WWD. The research team also obtained significant information from the National Wrong-Way Driving Summit hosted by IDOT and SUIE as part of this project in July 2013. The proceedings of the summit are available here.
The guidebook contains recommendations on common countermeasures (signs, pavement markings, and traffic signals) as well as geometric elements and design considerations such as interchange layout and arrangement of exit ramps. The guidebook also presents recommendations relating to human factors and behavior, such as enforcement and education strategies.