PHOENIX – It happens in an instant. An overhead message board flashes, “ALERT, WRONG-WAY DRIVER AHEAD.” Or headlights suddenly appear on your side of a divided roadway.
What you do before and during these and other situations involving wrong-way drivers, most of whom are impaired, can increase the chances of avoiding a potentially fatal collision.
“DRIVE AWARE, GET THERE”
HOW TO DRIVE AT NIGHT
- No matter the time of day, drivers should drive defensively. That means being constantly aware of driving conditions, your surroundings and anticipating dangers so you can take evasive action if you encounter a hazard, such as a wrong-way driver.
- Don’t tailgate. Leave enough space so if the vehicle in front of you makes a sudden lane change to avoid a wrong-way driver, you’ll have time to react, too.
- Be aware of your surroundings. While wrong-way drivers are often in the left or HOV lane, they enter highways from the right via off-ramps. Because they are often impaired, their movements are unpredictable.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ENCOUNTER A WRONG-WAY VEHICLE
- If you’re on a divided highway – like I-17, SR 51, US 60 or any freeway in Phoenix and all interstates – and you see a vehicle coming toward you, slow down by easing your foot off the gas.
- Make sure there’s no vehicle next to you and steer away from the wrong-way driver.
- Get to a safe place, call 911 and report the wrong-way driver.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE A SIGN WARNING OF A WRONG-WAY VEHICLE
- When ADOT is alerted to a possible wrong-way driver, overhead messages boards on that stretch of freeway will display the message, “Alert, wrong-way driver ahead.”
- If you see that message, safely move toward the nearest highway exit on the right side of the highway as soon as possible.
WHAT YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW
- Have a plan in mind, so if you encounter a wrong-way driver you won’t waste a moment that could save your life.
- Never drive distracted or impaired.
- And never let an impaired driver get behind the wheel. Most wrong-way crashes are caused by impaired drivers. It’s up to all of us to keep impaired drivers off our roads.
More information on “Drive Aware, Get There” can be found at azdot.gov/wrongway.