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Lights… camera… stop! Efforts increase to stop wrong-way driving

Fast facts:

  • Wrong-way driving is on the rise and the crashes are usually deadly.
  • Mitigation measures have been implemented throughout the state with more on the way.
  • MDOT, MSP and the City of Grand Rapids are partnering to help with a stretch of US-131.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. ­- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is partnering with the Michigan State Police (MSP) and the City of Grand Rapids to reduce the chances of wrong-way driving. Detection systems will be added at interchange off ramps along US-131 between Ann Street and M-11 (28th Street) to warn drivers they are going the wrong way. A series of lights will flash on the wrong way signs, cameras will start rolling, and the authorities will be alerted. Similar systems are already in place at the northbound US-131 off ramp to Cherry Street and the northbound US-131 off ramp (Hynes Avenue) to Hall Street.

A new video on MDOT's YouTube channel shows the system currently in place on northbound US-131 at Cherry Street.

"Whether caused by alcohol, drugs, or confusion, wrong-way driving is a serious problem," said F/Lt. Matt Williams, commander of the MSP Grand Rapids Post. "Technology can be used to prevent tragedy. We're proud to partner with MDOT on this innovative approach to reduce traffic injuries and deaths."

According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, there were 2,008 deaths from wrong-way driving crashes on divided highways between 2015 and 2018, an average of approximately 500 deaths a year. That’s up 34 percent when compared to the previous four years. 

"This is another example of how technology is playing an increasing role in keeping our community safe," said Grand Rapids Police Chief Eric Winstrom. "We've seen too many examples of the harm wrong-way drivers can cause. Adding these alert systems is a positive step forward and I am very thankful they are being deployed in our city.”

"It's always astonishing and horrific when these types of crashes happen, but we're going to continue our proactive efforts to reduce the risk," said MDOT Grand Region Engineer Erick Kind. "We identified this 6-mile section of US-131 as the highest concentration of traffic, bars, nightlife, and other entertainment areas."

Over the past several years MDOT has:

  • Added reflective strips to "Do Not Enter" and "Wrong Way" signposts.
  • Added "backside" red reflective strips along the length of the off ramps.
  • Added stop bars and turn arrows at the ramp approaches, in addition to wrong way arrows placed further back.
  • Added turning guideline markings at ramps where the on and off ramps are adjacent to each other.
  • Painted curbed islands at ramp terminals.
  • Lowered "Do Not Enter" signs to improve headlight angles.

For more information on wrong-way driving, visit the Federal Highway Administration website.

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