As of October 1, 2016, the SWUTC concluded its 28 years of operation and is no longer an active center of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The archived SWUTC website remains available here.


SWUTC Research Project Description

Wrong Way Driving Countermeasures

University: Texas A&M University

Principal Investigator:
Melisa Finley
Texas Transportation Institute
(979) 845-7596

Funding Source: SPR Program

Total Project Cost: $237,802

Project Number: 0-6769

Date Started: 9/1/12

Estimated Completion Date: 8/31/13

Project Summary

Project Abstract:
Municipal police departments in major urban areas in Texas are alerted to hundreds of wrong-way driving events each year.  The vast majority of these events (60 to 70 percent or more) that result in crashes are known to involve a driver who was impaired.  The severity of wrong-way crashes is a major concern given the likelihood of a head-on crash, and historical data from Texas show that half of wrong-way crashes result in a fatality or incapacitating injury.  While standard and innovative countermeasures are available, it is not clear what methods are most successful at getting the attention of wrong-way drivers and conveying to them that they are going the wrong direction on a freeway ramp or the main lanes.  Guidance on where to deploy wrong-way countermeasures is also needed.

Project Objectives:
The objectives of this research are to:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of wrong-way driving countermeasures.
  • Develop recommendations regarding the implementation of wrong-way driving countermeasures.

Task Descriptions:

Task 1 – Assess State-of-the-Knowledge in the U.S. and Texas

Task 2 – Evaluate Countermeasures in a Closed-Course Environment

Task 3 – Evaluate Countermeasures and Detection Systems in an Operational Environment

Task 4 – Develop and Assess Wrong-Way Driver Warning Messages

Task 5 – Develop Guidelines and Prepare Reports

Implementation of Research Outcomes:
The findings from this research effort show that a wide variety of countermeasures and mitigation methods are needed to combat wrong way driving (WWD) on controlled-access highways.  Researchers believe that low-cost traditional and innovative traffic control device countermeasures are effective at reducing WWD events.  However, based on the findings of this research and anecdotal evidence, researchers suspect that these countermeasures will not attract the attention of or be understood by highly intoxicated drivers. Therefore, WWD detection systems are also needed.

Impacts/Benefits of Implementation:
Based on the findings of this research effort, researchers developed guidelines for TxDOT districts where WWD has been identified as an issue.  Researchers also made recommendations regarding the design and display of wrong way driver warning messages on directional message signs (DMSs).

Web Links:
Final Technical Report