Mother of motorist killed by wrong-way driver thankful for incoming technology

Late Tuesday night, law enforcement from Livingston County Sheriff's office were sent to I-96 after a woman had crashed into a barrier after driving the wrong way on the highway.

She was wearing her seat belt at the time, was not speeding, and police do not believe alcohol was a factor in the crash. The 79-year-old was reported in critical condition and was taken to the hospital after colliding with a wall in Brighton Township.

There are a number of reasons that drivers end up on going the wrong way on the highway. Sometimes, they lose control and don't know which way they're pointing. Other times, the driver is intoxicated.

The Michigan Department of Transportation hopes to curb instances like Tuesday's dangerous crash with new technology coming to metro Detroit freeways.

If the new signage saves even one life, one mother who lost her son to similar circumstances says it will have been enough.

"It shook me to my core. To this day I’m still in shock. I still look for him to come through those doors," said Maxine Willis. 

Willis was mother to 43-year-old Marvin Willis, who died in May 2023. He was killed in the early hours while on I-696 near Greenfield when a wrong-way driver who was intoxicated collided head-on. The 22-year-old offender also died in the crash.

Willis is still grieving her son's death.

"I couldn’t even see my child because it was a head on collision, I couldn’t hold his face and kiss him on the forehead like I usually do," she said.

Willis says the new technology that is coming to I-696, I-75, and I-375, which will help notify drivers they are going the wrong way, is an answer to her prayers.

"I’m going to use every strength I have to help make sure that this system is on every freeway in this city," she said.

The cameras will be stationed at eight freeway ramps.


Wrong-way driver detection coming to 3 Metro Detroit freeways -- How it works

Wrong-way driving technology is coming to I-696, I-75, and I-375. Similar tech is already in use along a West Michigan freeway.