New flashing LED lights on traffic signs intended to help prevent wrong-way crashes

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SAN DIEGO — Heading into Labor Day weekend, the California Department of Transportation is looking to prevent wrong-way crashes by implementing flashing LED lights around traffic signs in San Diego County.

During Labor Day weekend last year in the state, 46 people died in wrong-way crashes and more than 900 driving under the influence arrests were made, according to California Highway Patrol.

“Please don’t drive drunk, please don’t let a friend drive drunk,” District 5 Councilmember Marni Von Wilpert said. “That may be the last time you see them.”

Wilpert says the goal is to stop people from driving under the influence in the first place, but if they do fire up the engine, she hopes the LED lights might steer them clear of disaster.

“And the data shows they work,” she said. “Director Delarda and the Caltrans team have taken steps to lead to 64% reduction in reported wrong-way driver events.”

Caltrans is rolling out the flashing LED wrong-way signs on exit ramps at 67 locations throughout the county.
The sheriff’s department says they’re effective on DUI drivers and people who simply make a wrong turn, but it may not stop everyone.

“I think that anything we do to try to alert people that they are going the wrong way is a good idea,” said Darrell Daniels, whose wife died in a wrong-way crash. “Anything that we do in that manner is a step in the right direction.”

Daniels’ wife was driving the wrong direction when she slammed head-on with another car, killing a married couple and two San Diego police officers. He believes his wife was having medical issue — a diabetic low — and has doubts the signs would have helped.

“I don’t think it would’ve prevented my wife’s accident, but some of the others that happened recently, it could have,” Daniels said.

Caltrans says they are working on another pilot program that has surveillance cameras in the signs that would alert troopers with San Diego Sheriff’s Department and Caltrans’ office employees.

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