The Oklahoma Department of Transportation is testing new wrong-way signs on several I-40 exits to help alert drivers when they are going the wrong way.
The system uses thermal cameras to help figure out when a vehicle enters a ramp in the wrong direction and then uses flashing lights to help get the driver’s attention.
These cameras are being tested at I-40 exits across eastern Oklahoma, in Henryetta, Checotah, Webbers Falls, Sallisaw and Roland.
TJ Gerlach, the spokesperson for ODOT, said the new signs are needed.
“More modern interchange design actually helps deter wrong way incidents,” said Gerlach. “But we still have a lot of interchanges out there that are older designs, even dating back to the origin of the interstate system. And a lot of those are confusing to some people.”
Gerlach said this driver confusion can lead to deadly mistakes.
"In case that they maybe get confused or they can't find the proper on-ramp, we hope that this is going to deter them from accidentally getting on and going in the wrong direction,” said Gerlach. “As you know, any time there's a wrong-way incident, a lot of times they might end in tragedy."
Gerlach said as ODOT grows the technology, it can decide which exits need the most improvement.
"We try to trace it back to where that person ultimately got on the highway and if there's anything that needs to be done to help drivers know that this is not the correct way to go," Gerlach said.
He said the best way for drivers to avoid wrong-way crashes is to always pay attention to their surroundings.
"Ultimately, driver responsibility is the main line of defense for preventing wrong-way incidents,” said Gerlach. “But this wrong way system is another method we're implementing to hopefully to stop incidents like this from occurring in the future."
ODOT plans to install these cameras on I-40, all the way to the Texas state line, then on I-35 from the Texas state line to the Kansas state line.