HARTFORD— On Wednesday, two local state representatives from eastern Connecticut voted in favor of measures to help protect the public from recent wrong-way driving incidents plaguing our roadways. State Representatives Irene Haines (R-34) and Mark DeCaprio (R-48) joined their colleagues in Connecticut’s House of Representatives unanimously in passing the legislation.
The bill, H.B. 6746, An Act Concerning Wrong-Way Driving Detection, calls for the installation of wrong-way driving detection systems on at least 120 high-risk exit ramps. It also calls for a public awareness campaign about the growing problem while also requiring the Department of Transportation to provide a grant from available resources to the University of Connecticut to analyze the effectiveness of directional rumble strips.
“Over the last several years, we have seen some truly heartbreaking accidents that are becoming all too common here in Connecticut,” said Rep. Haines. “Anything that we can do to help the public, our police officers, and first responders prevent these tragedies is very important to me.”
After increases in 2020 and 2021, 2022 delivered another increase wrong-way crashes—13 of them, resulting in 23 fatalities, according to state transportation leaders.
“Supporting these wrong way driving countermeasures is an important first step to addressing what has become a serious problem across our state and country,” said Rep. DeCaprio. “I will be interested to see the results of the pilot program, along with the recommendations to assist us in making these critical decisions in future sessions.”
A wrong-way driving detection system, as described under the bill, would be capable of alerting drivers—using flashing lights—when they’re going the wrong way. Such systems would also notify police when a wrong-way driver is detected while also broadcasting a notice on electronic message boards along a highway to alert other motorists.
In 2020, $1 million in bonding was approved to purchase signs that flash a warning when they’ve detected a vehicle entering the road in the wrong direction, and in 2022 an additional $20 million in bonds were approved for DOT to purchase advanced wrong way driving technology. This session, the legislature’s Finance Committee has acted favorably on a bond bill that includes $20 million in bonds in each of FY24 and FY25 for wrong way driving countermeasures.
The legislation approved unanimously in the House on Wednesday will now await further action in the State Senate.
Rep. Irene Haines represents the 34th Assembly District serving residents of East Haddam, East Hampton, and Salem.
Rep. Mark DeCaprio represents the 48th Assembly District serving the residents of Bozrah, Colchester, Franklin, and Lebanon.