Officials: 2024 wrong-way crash deaths in CT already surpass 2023

CTDOT identified 236 ramps as “high risk.”

Marissa Alter

May 9, 2024, 8:47 PM

Updated 8 days ago


State transportation officials said 11 people have died in wrong-way crashes on Connecticut roadways this year, surpassing the total number from 2023.
The increase followed the state’s fourth wrong-way collision of 2024 early Thursday morning.
It happened in Stratford after an SUV heading north on the southbound side of the Merritt Parkway collided head-on with a minivan, killing four people.
In 2023, there were five wrong-way crashes and seven people killed, a drop from the year before when wrong-way collisions surged.
In 2022, there were 13 crashes, which resulted in 23 deaths. It was one of the deadliest years on Connecticut highways and spurred efforts by the state.
“Engineering, education and enforcement—those are things that are under control of the state of Connecticut,” said Josh Morgan, communications director for the state Department of Transportation.
The state began installing technology at interstate off-ramps to try to stop drivers from getting on in the wrong direction. The detection systems include cameras, which activate flashing red lights on the wrong way signs to get the driver's attention. The system also alerts the highway operations center and state police to try and stop these vehicles before a crash, according to Morgan.
“We have about 50 that are currently online—generally, in the greater Hartford and eastern Connecticut region. That's where the program started. We are moving west right now,” Morgan said. “There are currently no systems on the Merritt Parkway. By the end of the year, we remain on target to have about 100 or more of the systems online. And then in the next couple of years, we'll have more than 200 that are active across Connecticut.”
According to Morgan, CTDOT identified 236 ramps as “high risk.” Risk factors include multiple ramps next to each other, lack of sufficient lighting, wrong-way event history and if it’s within a half mile of places that serve alcohol.
“We've seen the systems work. There have been about 12 or 13 different instances that have been caught by the systems, and the driver stops, turns around,” Morgan explained.
In March, state police released dashcam video of a state trooper intercepting a wrong-way driver on Route 8 in Waterbury. According to police, the driver was disoriented and confused.
Morgan acknowledged some of the highway designs can be confusing to drivers.
“We're a very dense state. We have 700 ramps in Connecticut. A lot of them are directly next to each other, on ramp and off ramp. Low visibility, a foggy night, a rainy night—it could be really difficult to see the correct ramp,” Morgan said.
That’s part of the reason crews have put up hundreds of oversized signs on off-ramps that say, “wrong way,” “do not enter” and “one way.”
The state also released a PSA campaign to warn the public about the dangers of wrong-way driving.
But confusion isn’t the primary reason behind wrong-way crashes, according to Morgan.
“Historically, looking at the data when those reports are completed, we're seeing that virtually every single driver is impaired by alcohol,” Morgan stated. “The rate of impaired driving is just incredibly dangerous. It's scary, and it's putting people at risk.”
Ultimately, it's up to drivers to pay attention to the signs and drive sober, Morgan said, adding that Connecticut’s drunk driving problem goes beyond wrong-way crashes. Morgan said 40% of all roadway deaths in the state are the result of an impaired driver. Nationally, that statistic is 30%.

More from News 12