State Rep. considers law requiring spike strips to stop wrong-way drivers

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Nine people have died and another 15 have been injured because of wrong-way drivers this year in Arizona. A local lawmaker is floating a new bill she hopes will put a stop to the problem. 

"They're so devastating. It impacts so many families that the solution here has to be about prevention," said Arizona State Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, after Tuesday morning's wrong-way collision on the I-17 near Sunset Point that injured four people. 

[READ MORE: 4 people in serious condition following wrong-way crash on SB I-17]

Ugenti-Rita hopes that incident will be the last. 

She's announcing her plans to introduce a bill requiring spike strips be installed on exit ramps.  

ADOT has previously said there are some problems with this idea.

It says spike strips are not designed for speeds faster than 5 miles per hour, or for use in high traffic areas. It believes spikes would cause backups in traffic heading in the right direction, and would require excessive maintenance. 

"I think that is a bunch of excuses," said Ugenti-Rita. "The public wants results. They want to stop the wrong-way drivers. There have been too many casualties. And the issues they brought up? I don't see why we can't mitigate those or manage those in a reasonable way." 

She plans to start drafting her proposed bill as soon as possible. 

"I can't even begin to understand the grief associated with these accidents. And to think that there are solutions and as a state we haven't been more proactive is devastating for me as a legislator," she said. 

ADOT said Tuesday it "can’t comment on pending or potential legislation. We aren’t ruling out any possibility as we continually evaluate potential countermeasures."

It is already working on installing a thermal camera detection system on the I-17 between the I-10 “Stack” and Loop 101. The $3.7 million pilot program be operational by early 2018. 

If Ugenti-Rita's plans were to materialize, she says she would look into eliminating the need for license plate registration stickers. She says police look up that information on their computers during traffic stops, making the stickers redundant. Getting rid of them would save the state $1.7 million a year, money that could do toward preventing wrong-way driving. 

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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

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Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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