Caltrans and the California Office of Traffic Safety officials launched a wrong-way driver education and prevention campaign Tuesday. Courtesy Caltrans San Diego

Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, Caltrans and the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) launched a wrong-way driver prevention campaign Tuesday in San Diego County to reduce deadly incidents.

On average, 37 people are killed each year in wrong-way crashes on California roads, according to the campaign. In 2019, there were 248 wrong-way crashes on state highways. Almost half of the involved drivers were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“This campaign addresses impaired driving as the common cause of wrong-way collisions, and we hope to significantly reduce crashes involving wrong-way drivers and other impaired drivers by enhancing public awareness,” said Caltrans District 11 Director Gustavo Dallarda.

In San Diego, the number of wrong-way drivers decreased by 44% during Caltrans’ initial pilot program that installed specialized reflectors, sensors and illuminated signs in 2018, according to the campaign.

The department has allocated nearly $9 million toward wrong-way driver prevention upgrades like red pavement reflectors and larger wrong-way warning signs on 74 highway ramps throughout San Diego County.

California Highway Patrol and Caltrans officials recommend if you see a wrong-way driver: 

  • Move as quickly and as safely out of the way as possible. As soon as it is safe to do so, call 911 and report the driver. 
  • While driving, maintain a high visual horizon to scan the environment on the road far ahead of where you are driving. This increases your ability to see roadway hazards far ahead and safely get out of the way. 
  • Keep your headlights on at night. If a wrong-way driver sees headlights, they might realize they are going the wrong way. 
  • Most importantly, avoid distractions, pay attention, and don’t drink and drive.