DPS director: Thermal cameras not enough to stop wrong way drivers

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Freeway cameras are not the key to stopping wrong-way drivers.

That's the message from Arizona's Department of Public Safety Director Col. Frank Milstead, who is looking to stir up more public outcry over the number of impaired drivers on our roads and highways.

"We can't arrest our way out of impaired drivers," he said.

The DPS director called it a social issue that needs to be addressed by the entire community.

[READ MORE: DPS director says wrong-way crashes are social issue]

[SPECIAL SECTION: Wrong-way drivers]

Milstead does support the wrong-way driver deterrent system the Arizona Department of Transportation is putting up along Interstate 17 but said the problem runs much deeper.

In the past two weeks, at least a half dozen wrong-way drivers have been arrested around the state.

[INTERACTIVE MAP: Where are these wrong-way-driving incidents happening?]

A few were spotted by other drivers. A couple were caught on traffic cameras.

In each case, the drivers appeared intoxicated or impaired, according to Milstead.

"There's no way I can put enough law enforcement, or anybody else can put enough law enforcement, to arrest all these drunk drivers," Milstead said. "If someone is leaving a restaurant or bar who has had way too much to drink and still feels the need to drive, we as citizens need to become intolerant. We need to make sure that when we see something, we say something and call 911."

ADOT is in the process of installing new thermal cameras along a 15-mile stretch of I-17.

[WRONG-WAY DRIVERS: ADOT’s thermal camera detection system to become reality]

[RELATED: I-17 ramps to close for wrong-way detection system install]

[VIDEO: ADOT's thermal cameras detect two wrong-way drivers]

The $3.7-million system is designed to detect wrong-way drivers, send up warning signals and alert DPS troopers to help them respond faster.

We can't arrest our way out of impaired drivers.

 Arizona law enforcement makes around 2,500 drunk driving arrests each year.

[RELATED: How to stay alive if a wrong-way driver comes at you]

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Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

Click to learn more about Jason.

Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

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