ALBANY — Radar, flashy LED signs, and text alerts to drivers’ cellphones and local police are part of New York’s new, high-tech effort to combat wrong-way crashes on the state Thruway.
The system linked to Doppler radar and designed by Thruway Authority workers is being installed at the Buffalo exit at the Niagara Expressway, also known as Interstate 190. The second stage will be installed in Nyack, the site of several serious wrong-way crashes. More exits will soon get the systems along the 570-mile interstate highway.
“New York is the first state in the nation to utilize this sophisticated technology to enhance traffic safety and save lives,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said the technology will save lives.
Doppler radar will be used to detect vehicles traveling the wrong way onto the Thruway. That will trigger a flashing LED sign to alert the driver and tell them to pull over and turn around when safe to do so. Other Thruway drivers will be alerted by other signs and the Thruway’s Statewide Operations Center will get an alert that can be shared with local police.
The system was developed by Thruway engineer Steve Velicky and made by Fiberdyne Labs in Frankfort and by Herkimer Industries in central New York. Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said the new alerts mesh with the existing texting alert system he said has been successful in alerting New Yorkers about traffic hazards. The new system doesn’t allow drivers to violate the no-texting laws pushed by Cuomo.
There were 17 fatalities in 15 accidents on the Thruway in 2012. Cuomo said last year was the safest year on the Thruway in its 59-year history.