Central District Projects

Interstate 17 Wrong-Way Detection System

Project Background: Thermal Detection System

The Arizona Department of Transportation is advancing a $3.7 million project to construct a first-in-the-nation wrong-way driver thermal detection system along a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 17 in Phoenix. The system is designed to detect wrong-way vehicles and alert the other drivers and law enforcement of them on I-17.

Construction of the thermal camera pilot system is expected to begin in August on I-17 from Interstate 10 to Loop 101. Full installation will take approximately seven months, and the performance of this pilot will guide further expansion.

The system will take a three-phase approach when a wrong-way vehicle is detected: alerting wrong-way drivers so they can self-correct, warning right-way drivers and notifying law enforcement.

Once operational, the system will use thermal cameras, warning signs for wrong-way drivers and advisories for right-way drivers along I-17. In addition, the system will automatically focus highway cameras on the wrong-way vehicle and send automated alerts to the Highway Patrol, helping troopers intercept vehicles faster.

Prototype Deployment - Thermal Imaging Project

On freeway ramps, wrong-way vehicles will trigger alerts, including illuminated signs with flashing lights, aimed at getting drivers to stop. The system will immediately warn other drivers through overhead message boards as well as law enforcement. Cameras in the area will automatically turn to face the wrong-way vehicle so traffic operators can better track it. On the freeway, thermal cameras placed at one-mile intervals will signal when a wrong-way vehicle passes so State Troopers plan their response and get out in front of the wrong-way driver, providing a faster response.

While ADOT and the Arizona Department of Public Safety respond quickly to reports of wrong-way drivers, most incidents begin with 911 calls from other motorists. The advantages of this system begin with automatically alerting ADOT and DPS to wrong-way drivers at the point of entry and getting State Troopers to wrong-way vehicles faster.

This system can reduce the risk, but it can’t prevent wrong-way driving.

Phoenix-area freeways safely move hundreds of thousands of vehicles every day. When crashes do occur, research demonstrates that more than 90 percent of the time, the collision is the result of driver behavior – like speeding, reckless or distracted driving, or driving while impaired. Wrong-way crashes fit this pattern.

Beyond a detection system, coordination with DPS and local law enforcement is necessary to stop and intercept wrong-way drivers before they enter the highway system.

ADOT also continues to study new technologies that promote highway safety for all users, including tools for detection, tracking and notification of wrong-way drivers.

If you would like to be notified via email when traffic alerts are issued during construction of this system, please subscribe for email updates.
Arizona State Logo - Official Website of the State of Arizona

 ADOT Logo

Arizona Department of Transportation

Contact Us

Join the ADOT Team - Employment Opportunities
Comment on the Draft EA

There will be several opportunities to provide comments on the Draft EA, and all comment methods are considered equal. At any time during the 30-day public comment period, comments can be provided in several ways.

  • Public Hearing
    May 15, 2014 | 5-8 p.m.
    Presentation at 5:30 p.m.
    El Mirage Senior Center
    14010 N. El Mirage Rd.
    El Mirage, AZ 85335
  • In writing:
    ADOT Bell and Grand Project Team
    1655 W. Jackson St.
    MD 126F
    Phoenix, AZ 85007
  • Online
  • By email:
  • By phone: