Impairment suspected in wrong-way crash on I-17

Posted: Updated:
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: Rudy Norte, 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: Rudy Norte, 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: KPHO/KTVK) (Source: KPHO/KTVK)

Impairment is suspected in yet another wrong-way crash on one of the Valley’s freeways.

The wrong-way driver was in a black Jeep that went south for about 10 miles in the northbound lanes of Interstate 17 before he or she crashed into an oncoming car near Bell Road.

SLIDESHOW: From the scene

MAP: Interstate 17 and Bell Road

"I actually passed the guy and then slowed down to let him pass me," witness Anthony Lamanna said. "Thirty seconds later, head-on collision and I thought, "That could've been us."

A second driver swerved out of the wrong-way vehicle’s path and crashed into a wall.

No serious injuries were reported but the suspect was taken to the hospital.

The Department of Public Safety has not identified the suspect.

An ongoing problem

DPS said its troopers responded to more than 1,600 reports of wrong-way drivers last year.

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. 

Crashes caused by wrong-way drivers, when they happen, can be devastating. Arizona averaged more than two serious or deadly crashes caused by wrong-way drivers per month in 2016.

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

DPS would like to remind motorists to avoid distractions while driving so that you can better respond, or take evasive action if you encounter a hazard such as a wrong-way driver. Have a plan in mind to avoid a wrong-way vehicle so that if you encounter one, you will not waste a moment to take emergency evasive action that could save your life.

“Increase your chances of avoiding a wrong-way collision by staying right, staying aware and reporting wrong-way drivers immediately,” DPS Capt. Damon Cecil while talking about the statistics over the summer.

The Arizona Department of Transportation has installed hundreds of oversized warning signs at ramps statewide in an effort to curb the problem.

The agency is planning a wrong-way vehicle detection and warning system for a stretch of Interstate 17 in Phoenix.

[RELATED: ADOT taking steps to reduce number of wrong-way crashes]

[RELATED: Why spike strips won't stop Arizona's wrong-way crashes]

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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