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

New technology is coming to several Metro Detroit freeways in an attempt to stop wrong-way drivers. 

Wrong-way driving detection systems are being installed on eight freeway entrance ramps in Wayne and Oakland counties:

  • EB I-696 @ Woodward
  • WB I-696 @ Woodward
  • SB I-375 @ Larned
  • SB I-375 @ Monroe
  • SB I-375 @ Madison
  • NB I-75 @ Mack
  • SB I-75 @ Mack
  • SB I-75 @ Warren

The systems will include cameras that detect drivers getting on the freeways the wrong way and activate bright flashing lights to alert the drivers that they are going the wrong way. These lights will continue flashing until the driver turns around or is out of the camera's sight. The backs of signs on ramps will also have reflective tape.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is also working on procedures that would notify police of wrong-way drivers, though a notification system is not part of the current plan.

Wrong-way driving continues to be a problem on Michigan roads. Oftentimes, at-fault drivers are intoxicated by alcohol or drugs when they get on the wrong side of the freeways, and sometimes they only stop when they crash. These alert systems aim to warn drivers before they can get onto the freeway and hit someone. 

According to MDOT, the addition of the tech is possible thanks to a grant for Woodward Corridor improvements. The eight ramps were selected based on their proximity to Woodward Avenue, along with a review of wrong-way driving in those areas since 2019.


MSP: 2 unrelated deadly wrong-way driver crashes on I-75

Two people were killed early Saturday in separate unrelated wrong-way driver crashes on I-75, according to Michigan State Police.

Police have responded to numerous wrong-way driver crashes on both I-75 and I-696 in Metro Detroit in recent years. Just a couple weekends ago, two impaired drivers were arrested after a wrong-way driver hit an SUV on I-696 in Madison Heights.

Though that crash wasn't fatal, many were. In March, a woman was killed when a wrong-way driver hit her on I-75 in Lincoln Park. The at-fault driver also died. 

Last year, two people died in unrelated wrong-way driving crashes in Detroit that happened just hours apart. Less than a month after that crash, a wrong-way driver and the person he hit both suffered critical injuries in a crash on I-75 in Detroit. That wrong-way driver was first spotted on I-375 before continuing onto I-75.

I-696 also saw back-to-back fatal wrong-way crashes last year. In May, an impaired wrong-way driver suffered minor injuries when he crashed into another driver on I-696 while police were trying to get his attention to stop him. The person he hit was killed. Less than 24 hours later, both a wrong-way driver and the man they hit were killed in a crash on the same freeway.


'This is unbearable for any mother' Man killed by wrong-way driver on I-696

"This is unbearable for any mother, any family to go through this," said Maxine Willis, the victim's mother. "Still so unreal to think that his life was snatched out of a wrong-way driver."

Similar technology has been added to freeway ramps along US-131 in the Grand Rapids area. MDOT  said the mitigation measures, which vary based on the ramp, have stopped potential wrong way drivers on that road. 

The technology on Metro Detroit roadways is expected to be operational by the end of the year.

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