Wrong-way drivers stopped in separate incidents on Loop 101, 303

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The first incident started on Loop 101 at McDowell Road. Police stopped the female driver near Hayden Road and Larkspur Drive. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) The first incident started on Loop 101 at McDowell Road. Police stopped the female driver near Hayden Road and Larkspur Drive. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Impairment might have been a factor in that incident. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Impairment might have been a factor in that incident. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
The second incident happened just before 5 a.m. on the Loop 303 near Grand Avenue. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) The second incident happened just before 5 a.m. on the Loop 303 near Grand Avenue. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
The trooper reportedly cited and released that driver. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) The trooper reportedly cited and released that driver. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
The Arizona Department of Transportation has put up more wrong way signs to help drivers. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) The Arizona Department of Transportation has put up more wrong way signs to help drivers. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

One wrong-way driver was taken into custody and a second was cited and released in separate incidents on two Phoenix-area freeways Thanksgiving morning.

The first incident was on the Loop 101 at Via de Ventura at about 3:30 a.m. The Department of Public Safety received three calls.

The female driver was stopped by the Scottsdale Police Department a little more than 4 miles away near Hayden Road and Larkspur Drive, which is north of Cactus Road and west of the 101 Pima Freeway.

"A DUI investigation was conducted and the female driver was subsequently arrested," according to Sgt. Ben Hoster's email response to our inquiry. "The driver stated was on her way home to Mesa. She was arrested for Extreme DUI." 

Arizona law defines extreme DUI as a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more but less than 0.20. The legal definition of impaired is a BAC of 0.08 or more, but in Arizona, officers may cite somebody under the subjective terminology "impaired to the slightest degree."

The second incident was about 90 minutes later across town on the Loop 303 near Grand Avenue.

A driver was reported traveling southbound in the northbound lanes. The southbound driver made it all the way down to Camelback Road, which is about 9 miles.

“A DPS Trooper was conducting a traffic break NB at Indian School when the Trooper observed the wrong-way vehicle traveling toward him,” according to the Department of Public Safety Duty Office. “The wrong-way vehicle slowed and came to a stop in front of the Trooper's vehicle.”

The trooper reportedly cited and released that driver.

The good news is that unlike the majority of wrong-way driving incidents, neither driver caused a crash Thursday morning and nobody was injured.

Wrong-way drivers an ongoing problem

The Arizona Department of Transportation has long been looking at ways to reduce the number of wrong-way crashes.

DPS said it received more than 840 calls about wrong-way drivers in the first six months of 2016.

While not every wrong-way driver call for service reveals an actual wrong-way driver, troopers always respond promptly and treat each call very seriously. 

A recent study shows that from 2004-2014, there were 245 wrong-way crashes in Arizona, resulting in 91 fatalities.

You can view an interactive chart on wrong-way crashes by clicking here.

The high number of wrong-way crashes prompted ADOT to put up hundreds of oversized "wrong way" - and "do not enter" signs along freeway off-ramps in hopes of getting drivers' attention.

But it's not always enough, especially with the number impaired drivers out on the road.

READ MORE: Why spike strips won't stop Arizona's wrong-way crashes

ADOT officials are now working on a Wrong Way Vehicle Detection System that would use existing sensors to alert authorities and other motorists that someone is going the wrong way.

 A prototype of the new technology is expected to be tested along Interstate 17 sometime next year, ADOT spokesman Doug Nintzel said.

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Jason Barry and Derek Staahl contributed to this story.

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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