Following a wrong-way driving incident that claimed the life of a Connecticut state lawmaker, about a dozen bills introduced at the statehouse are intended to help address the issue.
In the overnight hours following his attendance at Gov. Ned Lamont’s inaugural ball, Rep. Quentin Williams, D-Middletown, was struck and killed by a driver whose vehicle was headed the wrong direction while traveling on Route 9 in Cromwell. The other driver also died.
State lawmakers have since been busy offering possible solutions to the growing problem in the state.
In 2022, state figures show there were 13 wrong-way crashes in the state. There were 12 such crashes combined from 2019 to 2021.
Safety efforts already underway
The Connecticut Department of Transportation reports they have acted in recent years to reduce the likelihood of wrong-way driver crashes. The agency previously announced plans to launch a wrong-way detection pilot program this year at 16 high-risk ramp locations.
Additionally, $20 million in additional state funding allows CTDOT to deploy more wrong-way countermeasures. The agency also is outfitting multiple ramp locations with wrong-way detection technology.
The most comprehensive bill, SB622, would require the Connecticut Department of Transportation to address wrong-way driving by conducting a safety study of all highway exit and entrance ramps. Wrong-way signs with actuated flashers would be required to alert a driver when they are driving the wrong way.
Pavement markers would also be required to be installed at all highway exit and entrance ramps.
Pavement markings include directional pavement arrows, double-wide stop lines, and edge lines.
Additionally, wrong-way driving detection and notification systems would be installed on exit ramps to notify a law enforcement agency when a wrong-way driver is detected.
The presence of a driver headed the wrong would be broadcast on electronic message boards along the highway system.
A similar House bill, HB5968, would implement additional pilot programs to reduce wrong-way driving and to deploy various wrong-way driving countermeasures.
Such action includes installation of wrong-way driver detection and notification systems to track the behavior in real time. Law enforcement agencies also would be notified and the presence of a wrong-way driver would be broadcast on electronic message boards along the highway system.
Other bills of note
Most bills introduced to address the topic focus on one or two methods to help reduce wrong-way driving.
HB5962 would require the state DOT to install wrong-way signs with actuated flashers on all highway exit ramps and other locations throughout the state that have a high risk for wrong-way driving.
Monitoring devices at such ramps and locations would be required to notify a law enforcement agency when such flashers are activated.
HB5204 calls for expanding the amount of highway exit ramps with wrong-way signs with actuated flashers.
HB5966 would require a technology company that operates a global positioning system or other navigation application in the state to identify clearly one-way roads, highway entrance ramps and exit ramps and highways with vehicle class restrictions on such system or application.
HB5969 calls for rumble strips to be installed at entrance and exit ramps.
HB5972 would direct CTDOT to install traffic spikes along highway entrance and exit ramps to puncture the tires of vehicles traveling on such ramps in the wrong direction.
HB5992 would require driving instruction courses offered at drivers’ schools, high schools and other secondary schools to include instruction on the dangers of wrong-way driving.
HB6309 would mandate the installation of flashing wrong-way signs on all exit ramps on the state’s highway system.
HB6546 would direct CTDOT to implement additional countermeasures to decrease accidents and fatalities caused by wrong-way driving. Countermeasures would include the installation of wrong-way driver detection and notification systems on all exit ramps to track the behavior in real time.
SB613 would mandate the state DOT to install wrong-way detection systems throughout the state highway system and implement additional wrong-way driving countermeasures that are used in surrounding states that include Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Each bill awaits consideration in committee. LL