Arkansas highway officials have initiated $2.8 million in improvements with a focus on reducing wrong-way crashes on the state freeway system.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the effort is designed to address the problem of motorists entering freeways in the wrong direction.
The changes include replacing more than 4,000 “wrong way,” “do not enter” and “one way” signs at exit ramps with brighter sheeting and installing them at a lower height. The department also plans to put down more noticeable pavement directions and add reflectors on off-ramps that indicate the driver is going in the wrong direction.
The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department says that between 2009 and 2013, there were 64 crashes of vehicles going the wrong way, including 13 that resulted in 20 people killed. Another 25 accidents included serious injury.
The department’s analysis found that 70 percent of the crashes occurred at night and 60 of them involved an impaired driver.
Department data says that in the years covered by the analysis, an average of four people died annually as a result of one-way crashes. But in 2015, there were eight fatalities for this reason. One of them occurred late at night and involved an impaired driver.
“Many of the wrong-way crashes are largely random, although more common on higher-volume routes in urban areas,” said Jesse Jones, an engineer who heads the agency’s transportation, planning and policy division, in a memorandum outlining the improvements. “For these reasons, a system approach to install low-cost safety improvements on Arkansas’ freeways is warranted.”