The National Academies

NCHRP 03-135 [Active]

Wrong-Way Driving Solutions, Policy, and Guidance

  Project Data
Funds: $600,000
Staff Responsibility: William C. Rogers
Research Agency: Auburn University
Principal Investigator: Hugo Zhou
Effective Date: 7/22/2019
Completion Date: 1/21/2022
Comments: Research underway.

Since the beginning of the Interstate highway system in the 1950s, crashes related to driving the wrong way on freeways have challenged transportation officials. According to FHWA,
in the United States, wrong way driving (WWD) crashes result in 300 to 400 people killed each year on average, representing approximately 1 percent of the total number of traffic related fatalities that occur annually. While this is a small percentage overall, because WWD crashes involve head-on or opposite direction sideswipe crashes at high speeds, they tend to be relatively more severe than other types of crashes.
There are many strategies and treatments that agencies can consider for implementation that are designed to address wrong-way maneuvers, ranging from geometric design elements, to conventional traffic control devices, to various Intelligent Training Systems (ITS) based solutions. In addition, new, more advanced technologies are entering the market place and need to be evaluated and included in an overall approach to the problem. The development and compilation of clear guidance would foster a more systematic and uniform installation of roadway geometries, signs, striping, and technology, as would a more uniform method for monitoring, measuring, and reporting the effectiveness of these installations.
The objective of this research is to develop a handbook for practitioners implementing traditional and advanced safety countermeasures to achieve reductions in wrong-way driving (WWD) incidents and crashes on roadways.
The handbook should address areas of interest such as, but not limited to, the following:
  • Assessing data and findings from previous WWD studies (including international sources) to quantify crash characteristics, identify countermeasures, assess their effectiveness, and identify gaps in the research;
  • Retrofitting existing facilities and design of new facilities (e.g., interchanges, frontage roads, mainlines, ramps) to reduce the likelihood of WWD incidents and crashes; 
  • Evaluating (e.g., effectiveness, maintenance, performance, and life cycle cost) current and emerging technologies and practices to reduce WWD incidents and crashes;
  • Identifying best practices, standard operating procedures, design criteria, justifications, performance measures, protocols, and traffic management center operations currently used to address WWD;
  • Exploring relationships between WWD incidents and crashes and developing Crash Modification Factors or other evaluation factors for assessing countermeasures;
  • Developing typical application sheets for WWD treatments and a sample investigation checklist for WWD incidents and crashes; and
  • Developing methods of data collection to uniformly identify, investigate, and report WWD incidents and crashes.
The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.
A kick-off conference call with the research team and NCHRP shall be scheduled within 1 month of the contract’s execution. The work plan must be divided into a minimum of 2 phases as determined by the proposer. Each phase must be organized by task, with each task described in detail. Phase 1 will culminate with the submission of an interim report describing the work completed in the Phase 1 tasks and provide an updated work plan for the Phase 2 tasks, a first draft of the handbook, and the plan for the Phase 2 Wrong Way Driving Summit at the Beckman Center in Irvine, CA, to review the draft handbook with state representatives.  There must be an interim meeting with NCHRP to discuss the results of Phase 1. Work on Phase 2 tasks will not begin until the updated work plan is approved by NCHRP.  
Phase 2 shall consist of the Wrong Way Driving Summit and the development of the revised handbook. The NCHRP panel is seeking insights of proposers on how they will manage the Summit (including travel costs for non-panel participants) and gather feedback from transportation practitioners on the efficacy of the Phase 1 research and the first draft of the handbook.
The final deliverables, at a minimum, will include: (1) the handbook for implementing traditional and advanced safety countermeasures to achieve reductions in wrong-way driving (WWD) incidents and crashes on roadways; (2) a final report documenting the entire project and incorporating all other specified deliverable products of the research; (3) an electronic presentation of the handbook that can be tailored for specific audiences and is suitable for training; (4) a short video product to inform practitioners about the handbook; (5) recommendations for additional research; and (6) a stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products” (see Special Note B for additional information).
STATUS: Research underway.

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