By Adrienne Moore

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A new project is pumping the brakes on wrong-way drivers. It’s the result of a three-year pilot program conducted by Caltrans and UC Davis.

(credit: Caltrans)

Maybe you’ve seen them or perhaps they’ve helped you from heading in the wrong direction:  two-way reflectors popping up from the pavement.

“When you’re driving and you see a sea of red, it’s kind of a visual indicator that you’re going the wrong way,” said Caltrans spokesperson Kerstin Tomlinson.

In Sacramento County, Caltrans outfitted 18 off-ramps along Interstate 80, Highway 50, and Interstate 5 with the reflectors, along with wrong-way signs with 24-hour flashing LED lights that let drivers know they’re flipped around on the freeway.

“Those monitoring systems would take a picture of the driver when they entered the exit ramp in the wrong direction, and then send that picture and an alert to Caltrans and CHP,” Tomlinson said.

Partnering with a UC Davis Research Center, San Diego County used the same technology along 60 off-ramps, with game-changing results.

“It decreased the number of wrong-way drivers by 44 percent,” Tomlinson said.

While wrong-way collisions only account for one percent of all crashes on California Highways, most tend to be head-on, leaving people severely injured or dead, according to CHP. But with this three-year pilot program proving to be so effective, hundreds of miles of the state’s highways are now set to be upgraded with the new safeguards.

“Every time our crews go out to do maintenance or paving projects, they’re installing them,” Tomlinson said.

Caltrans could not say how much installing the reflectors and signs will cost.

Adrienne Moore

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