DANBURY — It’s been almost a year since a motion-sensor detection system was installed at the Interstate 84 Exit 8 off-ramp, and the state Department of Transportation is looking to expand the wrong-way driving deterrent technology to other parts of the state.
DOT spokesperson Kevin Nursick said Exit 8 in Danbury was selected as “the pilot location” for the use of the technology, and it has shown to be effective.
Motion sensors near the off-ramp detect when a vehicle is heading onto the highway in the wrong direction and activate flashing lights to get the attention of wrong-way drivers.
Nursick said the state picked Exit 8 as a test site for the technology because of its location and geometry, as well the fact that the intersection’s configuration can be confusing for drivers.
It was also one of the few places where drivers have been known to access I-84 in the wrong direction.
The Exit 8 detection system was installed in September 2020 and activated five times within the first 2.5 months, according to NBC CT.
It’s activated twice so far this year, Nursick said, and those motorists are believed to have corrected their wrong-way driving after seeing the flashing wrong-way signs along the ramp.
According to Nursick, nearly 70 percent of wrong-way crashes occur between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m., and most happen on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. He said intoxication is usually involved.
The success of the Exit 8 system has led the DOT to start looking for other areas of the state that could benefit from such technology.
“We’re in the initial stages of planning a project to install similar countermeasure systems around 15 locations in the state,” Nursick said, noting that the locations have yet to be confirmed.
“We’re still a ways out here,” he said. “We’re talking potential construction activities in 2023, and the design portion probably won’t be completed until next summer.”
So far this week alone, there have been at least two wrong-way driving crashes in Connecticut — one of which was fatal.
A 54-year-old Waterbury woman died Wednesday night after driving the wrong way on Interstate 691 in Southington and colliding head on with a tractor-trailer.
Early Monday morning, a 42-year-old Danbury woman was arrested following a wrong-way driving crash on I-84 westbound in Newtown.
She was charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence, wrong-way driving on a limited access highway and failing to maintain proper lane following the crash near Exit 9. Neither she nor the driver of the van she struck were injured, according to police.
Nursick said neither of the two Exit 8 system activations so far this year were from Monday.