This Morning: Warning system installed in Jackson County to reduce wrong way crashes

News

Officials at the Michigan Department of Transportation are installing a new camera system in Jackson that could save your life.

The idea is to stop drivers from entering the wrong way on freeways.

The new system is being installed at the I-94 and Sargent Rd. interchange in Jackson County.

According to Michigan State Police, there were at least 4 reports of wrong way drivers near this area between February of 2016 and November of 2017.

One of which, was a double fatal.

The Jackson TSC has been exploring options to improve this area after receiving complaints from residents and township officials.

Many of the reports included minor traffic crashes, near misses, and witnesses to vehicles backing up ramps that nearly enter the freeway the wrong direction. 

To help this problem.. the Jackson TCS has installed a “Wrong Way Alert System.”

M-DOT officials say this option is an inexpensive solution to prevent drivers from entering the freeway the wrong way.

The TSC was able to work with Lansing Traffic and Safety to capture federal funding for this project.

“If someone is out there making a bad decision, is distracted, or impaired this is another layer of safety to implement,” says Jackson Transportation Service Center Manager, Kelby Wallace.

Wallace says the system is a combination of cameras and red flashing lights.

The system has already been installed on the Eastbound I-94/Sargent Road interchange in Jackson County.

“If a vehicle were to enter the freeway in the wrong direction, the cameras would pick that up and it would create L-E-D flashing lights that are on the perimeter of these do not enter signs,” says Wallace.

The system includes 6 devices that will be placed to inform drivers that they are going the wrong way.

Wallace says M-DOT chose Sargent Road for it’s crash history and partial clover leaf layout.

Meaning, when an exit ramp is adjacent to the freeway entrance.

A common design in Michigan.

“We’re going back to see if there were things to retro fit on those locations to make them function even safer and better,” says Wallace.

According to police, wrong way crashes can often be more severe than others.

Involving head on or side swipe impacts at high speeds.

That’s why M-DOT officials are testing out the new system in mid-Michigan.. hoping drivers see the warning lights and turn around before it’s too late.

“We can only engineer so many things to prevent these crashes but that doesn’t mean we want to stop trying,” says Wallace.

Wallace says if the testing is successful over the next few years, M-DOT plans to use the data collected to implement the system at other Michigan interchanges in the future.

M-DOT is putting the finishing touches on the system now.

In the future, officials are hoping to add in a future to notify police.

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