LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Another wrong-way crash was reported Wednesday evening, just over two weeks after a former 8 News Now employee lost his life from a wrong-way driver.
The Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) told 8 News Now more technology to combat the issue is on its way, though if intoxicated drivers will notice it remains unclear.
Nevada State Police (NSP) said the most recent incident was on the northern 215 Beltway near Durango after 4:00 pm Wednesday.
A female, wrong-way driver reportedly crashed head-on with a truck, sending both to the hospital. They are both expected to live.
NSP did not respond to 8 News Now’s request on Thursday for any charges the wrong-way driver may face.
While reporting on the deadly crash along the southern 215 Beltway two weeks ago, NSP Sergeant Jason Buratczuk said the amount of wrong-way driving incidents in the valley has grown to “an epidemic.”
He lists the following numbers since 2020:
– 2020 – 713 recorded wrong-way drivers
– 2021 – 755 recorded wrong-way drivers
– 2022 – 823 recorded wrong-way drivers
The number so far this year has surpassed 70, including Wednesday’s incident.
Though it’s unclear where the most recent wrong-way driver entered the freeway, it likely
wasn’t US 95 and Durango, the only location in the Las Vegas Valley where NDOT wrong-way
driving technology is installed.
NDOT Spokesperson Justin Hopkins says radar technology detects the wrong-way driver and
immediately begins flashing lights around ‘wrong way’ signage, along with sending a video of
the driver to first responders.
The purpose is to get these drivers to turn around, Hopkins says, and not necessarily limit the number of intoxicated drivers getting on the freeway.
“It’s really hard to engineer your way out of somebody driving drunk or high,” Hopkins said
outside the NSP Southern Command Center Thursday morning.
He added that the department was recently given “the green light” to install more of this
technology in two isolated areas of the valley.
– I-15 at Starr Ave
– US 95 at Durango Dr
– US 95 at Skye Canyon Park Dr
– US 95 at Kyle Canyon Rd
“(The new locations) target areas where it’s essentially the easiest and most cost-effective
to install right off the bat,” Hopkins said. “They already have the baseline infrastructure
He also added a previous three-year NDOT study of the technology analyzed wrong-way drivers in 37 locations where the alert systems were installed across Nevada. The result: 85% of drivers entering a freeway incorrectly turn around or not progressing further into the freeway.
Though the other 15% several of them potentially intoxicated, continued on.
“Part of the problem with wrong-way driving is the vast majority of the time that we see it,
it’s somebody who is impaired,” Hopkins said. “So, we hope these systems will not
necessarily stop someone from driving impaired but will stop them from getting on the
freeway going in the wrong direction when they’re impaired.”
He added that this technology would ideally be installed valley-wide, and NDOT will evaluate
those potentials when possible.
When asked if future technology would include physical means to stop a wrong-way driver, such as safety spikes on the ground, he says that is not possible as of now since emergency vehicles occasionally must enter a freeway from the off-ramp.
The four new locations should be installed by this summer, according to Hopkins.