EASTERN OKLAHOMA (KNWA/KFTA) — The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) is testing a wrong-way detection and alert system on six ramps along Interstate 40 in Eastern Oklahoma.

According to a press release from ODOT, the system identifies when a vehicle enters an exit ramp in the wrong direction using thermal cameras and displays flashing lights on already posted Wrong Way signs to increase visibility. Installation of internally lit “Do Not Enter” signage allows the warnings to be better seen at night.

ODOT states that internally lit signs are more visible regardless of whether a vehicle’s headlights are on. The department emphasizes that “careful and attentive driving habits” are the best methods to stop wrong-way incidents before they happen. 

“While modern interchange designs significantly lessen the possibility of wrong-way incidents, this pilot program allows ODOT an opportunity to stop many of these incidents before drivers enter the highway and endanger themselves and other motorists. Safety is ODOT’s top priority and we hope this system will increase the safety of everyone who travels Oklahoma’s highways and interstates,” said Rick Johnson, director of project delivery for the Oklahoma Transportation Cabinet, which includes the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

The detection system is being tested on I-40 exits at:

  • Eastbound exit 247 at Tiger Mountain Rd. near Henryetta
  • East and westbound exit 265 at US-69B in Checotah
  • Westbound exit 287 at SH-100 at Webbers Falls
  • Eastbound exit 311 at US-64 in Sallisaw
  • Eastbound at exit 330 at SH-64D near Roland

Other improvements include adding and/or updating pavement markings, signage and other safety enhancements at all I-40 ramps between Oklahoma County and Arkansas. The $2.3 million project is the first phase of installing the system statewide. 

Further expansion of the wrong-way detection system is planned for the remainder of the I-40 corridor through Central and Western Oklahoma to the Texas state line, as well as I-35 from Kansas to Texas.

Whenever a wrong-way incident occurs, ODOT traces it back to the point of origin, if possible, to determine whether changes are needed on signage or pavement markings. ODOT also continues to upgrade interchanges statewide as part of its Eight-Year Construction Work Plan to decrease the chance of wrong-way incidents.