ArDOT Hope Changes To Off Ramps Prevent Wrong Way Drivers

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KFSM) -- Anna Gadison, 19, was driving the wrong direction on 1-49 in Springdale on Wednesday (Dec. 13) when she crashed into a semi, killing her herself and injuring the truck driver.

Arkansas Department of Transportation said you'd be surprised how often drivers get on the interstate going the wrong way.

ArDOT spokesman Danny Strassle said earlier this year they conducted a state-wide study to identify off ramps where they could make safety improvements.

“More than 600 off ramps across the state that serve freeways and interstates have been modified in a way that signage and a driver should be able to tell they are getting on going the wrong way,” he said.

Those modifications include lowering the signage so that it's right in front of the headlights of a vehicle so it can be seen easier at night. They also added do not enter signs, wrong way signs and one-way signs.

“Also we've put up delineators which are basically just posts that come up out of the ground and if you go the wrong way the reflector is reflecting red. And so there is a lot out there that's really going on to indicate you are going the wrong way,” he said.

Strassle said if you find out you are driving the wrong way on the interstate the best thing to do is to pull off onto the shoulder. Then he said to call law enforcement to help you turn around.

“If you are traveling at interstate speeds you don't want to try and do a U-turn on the freeway.  Cars are traveling a lot faster than they appear, it's not like doing a U-turn on a city street or a lower speed state highway,” he said.

Strassle said they don't believe the construction on I-49 contributes to people driving the wrong way because drivers are doing this throughout the state where there isn't construction.

ArDOT stresses that drivers also don`t try to back up on the on ramp if they realize they are getting on the interstate the wrong direction.