ADOT installs first-of-its-kind wrong-way driver thermal detection system in Phoenix for $3.7 million

System designed to detect wrong-way vehicles on I-17 and alert the other drivers and law enforcement of their presence.

Made Public Date


United States

Summary Information

In January 2018, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) began using a first-in-the-nation wrong-way detection system along a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 17 in Phoenix. The system includes 90 thermal detection cameras positioned above exit ramps and the mainline of Interstate 17 between the Interstate 10 stack interchange to the Loop 101 interchange. The system uses warning signs for wrong-way drivers and advisories for right-way drivers along I-17. In addition, the system automatically focuses highway cameras on the wrong-way vehicle and sends automated alerts to the Highway Patrol, helping troopers intercept vehicles faster.

The system operates by sounding an alarm at ADOT's operations center when a wrong-way vehicle is thermally detected. A window appears on operators' workstations showing live video from the thermal camera and providing other data. Operators can then immediately activate digital message boards in the area to alert drivers of the potential danger and encourage them to exit the freeway. If the detection is at an off-ramp, an internally illuminated wrong-way sign with red flashing light-emitting diodes activates in an attempt to attract the attention of the wrong-way driver. The same alert goes immediately to the Arizona Department of Public Safety to help troopers reach the scene as quickly as possible.

The system, including the 90 thermal cameras and background-illuminated wrong-way signs, was implemented at a cost of $3.7 million.

System Cost

Wrong-way Driver Thermal Detection System: $3.7 million (in 2018 USD)