MILWAUKEE — The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is using technology and education to help curb wrong-way drivers.
Milwaukee County has about 200 freeway ramps. Twenty of them are equipped with a technology, called BlinkLink, that helps alert dispatchers when a driver has entered on the wrong way of the interstate system.
“Once a wrong-way driver is confirmed, officials will then activate a response plan that includes alerting law enforcement and putting messages on freeway signs, they can put up there to alert drivers in the area, wrong-way driver reported,” said Jon Riemann, communications manager for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 2015 to 2019, there have been 50 fatal crashes. Lieutenant Nathan Clarke with the Wisconsin State Patrol said in about 90% of wrong-way driver crashes and incidents the driver is impaired, putting themselves and others at risk.
“These wrong-way driver events are 100% driver caused, caused by a driver making a bad decision, generally to become intoxicated, get behind the wheel and then operate that vehicle,” said Lt. Clark.
Other reasons for wrong-way drivers are unfamiliarity with the area or confusion due to on and off ramps being in close proximity to each other.
“What we are really hoping is people will self-correct before they get onto the mainline of the corridors,” said Lt. Clark.
Officials said most wrong-way driver crashes happen typically between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. and if you do find yourself in a wrong-way driver situation, call 911 immediately.
“Study’s have shown the majority of wrong-way drivers are in that left lane hugging that median wall…The best piece of advice we can give is move to the right, slow down and it’s not necessarily advisable to stop your vehicle because you need to be moving to be able to take any evasive action,” said Riemann.