ABC-7 Listens: Wrong-way drivers

Are tire spikes the answer?

Eric Huseby, Managing Editor
POSTED: 06:41 PM MST Nov 15, 2013    UPDATED: 06:48 PM MST Nov 15, 2013 
EL PASO, Texas -

    A  fatal wrong-way collision on Interstate Ten prompted an ABC-7 viewer to suggest a solution to the problem.

     The ABC-7 I-Team researched idea of installing one-way tire-piercing spikes on highway off-ramps.

  "There is a solution to the madness," a viewer named Ronald wrote.  "Put tire spikes at all the exit ramps to prevent this from happening.  (They) go down the right way, stay up the wrong way. (They) cost money, but to save a life is priceless."

    Wrong-way drivers are a persistent problem in the Borderland.  El Paso has seen four fatal wrong-way collisions on Interstate Ten during 2012 and 2013.

    Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Blanca Del Valle told us federal highway standards prohibit tire spikes.  

    Our research found spikes have actually been tested for this purpose, but found unsuitable.

    They're designed for low-speed use.  Tires don't deflate quickly enough at higher speeds.

     In high volume situations, the spikes sometimes broke, leaving stubs that damaged right-way vehicles.  

     Compacted snow can prevent them from fully retracting.

     The Texas A&M Transportation Institute has a wrong-way driving task force.  It's exploring many different solutions, including instant electronic detection of wrong way drivers and simultaneous notification via electronic billboards to drivers going the opposite direction.

     Another study by the group found one easy way to protect yourself from wrong-way drivers:  Avoid being out when drunk drivers are on the road.  94 percent of the wrong-way crashes in that study happened between 11pm and 4 am.