Researchers developing technology to deter wrong-way driving on highways

By Deven Clarke - News Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Researchers at the Southwest Research Institute are tackling wrong-way crashes with cutting-edge technology intended to keep people safe on highways in real-time.

San Antonio police report that, from Nov. 1-8, they've received 35 calls for wrong-way drivers.

“(Officials) want to reduce the numbers (of incidents), and this technology can help to provide that type of reduction,” said Cameron Mott, senior research analyst for the Southwest Research Institute.

The technology allows thermal cameras attached to Texas Department of Transportation posts to detect wrong-way drivers and lets dispatchers respond accordingly. Radar and color detecting cameras have been proving to be less accurate.

 “What we’re doing here is we're actually deploying thermal cameras. Thermal cameras actually work in day or night situations,” said Dr. Douglas Brooks, manager of research and development for the institute.

On the driver’s end, the technology would look like a run-of-the-mill GPS. But when the driver travels up a road the wrong way, it will send them an alert that lets them know they’re doing something wrong.

“The technologies that we typically have, they work in tandem with local (departments of transportation), and they also work with the end user — the end user being us, who are driving on the roads,” Brooks said.

While the technology is already being integrated into TxDOT infrastructure, researchers say it could take years before its mass produced for drivers.

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