The National Academies

NCHRP 03-135 [Final]

Wrong-Way Driving Solutions, Policy, and Guidance

  Project Data
Funds: $600,000
Research Agency: Auburn University
Principal Investigator: Hugo Zhou
Effective Date: 7/22/2019
Completion Date: 12/23/2022
Comments: Published as NCHRP Research Report 1050

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 was 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 addresses 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.
STATUS: Completed. The final report is available here: https://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/183052.aspx 

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