Following the recent onslaught of deaths related to wrong-way drivers on the state highways, Gov. Doug Ducey released a statement addressing his public safety concerns given that the injuries and deaths have already surpassed those from previous years.
"I have instructed the Department of Transportation, the Department of Public Safety, and my Office of Highway Safety to convene IMMEDIATELY to increase efforts to mitigate and prevent this public safety issue," Ducey says.
In his statement, Ducey says he wants all of Arizona to know the state is taking this issue "extremely seriously." "Our goal is to reduce fatalities and save lives, and we will take every appropriate measure in order to do so," Ducey said.
COMMENT: IT’S ABOUT TIME!!!
Question: What are ADOT and our DPS doing to prevent these wrong-way crashes?
Answer: Very little.
Zachar Law Firm and The Leader Law Firm have brought multiple negligence actions against ADOT for its failure to deal with the wrong-way driving problem. California has had a separate division to deal with wrong-way freeway collisions since the late 1980s and has been very successful in significantly reducing the number of wrong-way crashes. In the same 30+ year time period, Arizona has largely ignored this problem.
According to ADOT's own studies, countermeasures are available that would automatically detect wrong-way drivers and automatically warn oncoming traffic. This seems like a practical and sensible solution. ADOT was aware of these technologies years ago, and we cannot understand why it wasn't been implemented before the catastrophes that befell our clients.
Wrong way crashes continue to happen, and seemingly are increasing. With such high numbers of cars on Arizona's freeways and highways, Arizona must take a stand and do something. Governor Ducey clearly agrees and has ordered ADOT and the DPS to do something about this problem.
What else can be done by you? Here are some tips:
- Get off the highway. If you learn there is a wrong way driver on the highway, get off.
- Slow down. When 2 vehicle going opposite directions each collide at 60 mph, that is the equivalent of hitting a brick wall at 120 mph.
- Stay or get to your right. The statistics show that most wrong way drivers are driving towards their right-hand side of the road (i.e. the HOV lane). If you cannot get off the road, then slow down and get as far to your right (and away from the wrong way driver) as possible.
- Pay attention to the electronic highway signs. Sometimes ADOT will post warning messages.
ADOT has a responsibility to all drivers on the public roadways to provide reasonable measures for safety. Over the years, there have literally been HUNDREDS of these wrong way crashes, and it seems that they are getting more frequent. In 1985, the California Department of Transportation studied the problem and enacted measures that have cut their number of wrong-way crashes by more than 50%. Did ADOT do the same? Nope. Nada. Zip.
Not all crashes can be prevented. ADOT cannot guaranty safety on the roads. But that does not mean that ADOT can ignore this problem. Many of these can be prevented with proper measures.
When will ADOT stop, listen, learn and act? Maybe now, with Gov. Ducey’s order, this issue will finally get some attention from our state officials.
For everyone’s sake, we hope this happens soon.