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Iowa DOT working to prevent wrong-way driving

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 10:06 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) is working to try and prevent wrong-way driving.

In January 2018, police say a driver used the wrong ramp to get onto Interstate 380, causing a wrong-way crash. The driver had been drinking, but toxicology results showed he was still under the legal limit.

While new signs and markings may not help drivers who are severely under the influence, some say they could keep most drivers moving in the right direction.

The DOT will be making what they call enhancements to 165 interchanges and intersections around the state. 20 of those are in the Cedar Rapids area along I-380, Highway 30 and Highway 100.

Those locations will get pavement markings and larger signs that are easier for drivers to see. And those signs will be placed strategically to warn drivers to not go the wrong way.

Some interchanges will also have cameras-currently used for data collection-that can detect when a driver is heading in the wrong direction.

“Historically, people only care about wrong-way driving when it’s a crash,” said Willy Sorenson, Traffic and Safety Engineer for the Iowa DOT. “But there’s a lot of precursors, so if you start measuring the occurrences that aren’t a crash you can use that as a surrogate and look at where are those starting from, cause eventually, over time, those are going to turn into your crash locations.”

The DOT is already working to get to the root of some of these problem areas.

One interchange in Dyersville has a camera posted up that sends notifications to the DOT when drivers turn onto the wrong ramp. In turn, the DOT can use the footage and data to look closer at the intersection and decide what changes may be needed. Eventually, there will be a system that notifies police and 911 dispatchers. 10 of these interchanges in the Cedar Rapids area will have those types of cameras.

Sorensen says the DOT will start work in Western Iowa and will finish the project statewide by Thanksgiving.

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