Norm Needleman


Norm Needleman



June 2, 2023


HARTFORD, CT – Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex) joined the Senate’s passage of legislation aimed at preventing deadly wrong-way driving accidents.

“Wrong-way crashes are taking too many lives in Connecticut. This bill will build on our work to fight this horrific issue that leaves far too many experiencing grief,” said Sen. Needleman. “Notification systems at high-risk locations and public announcements of wrong-way drivers will likely prevent tragedies. I hope we can sign it into law soon so its benefits can save lives as soon as possible.”

This legislation requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to expand its efforts to implement wrong-way driver countermeasures through:
Installing wrong-way driving detection and notification systems (flashing lights to alert drivers when they are entering an exit ramp, notification to law enforcement) on at least 120 highway exit ramps that DOT determines are high-risk for wrong-way drivers; Establishing a pilot program at high-risk exit ramps that the department determines are appropriate for testing systems that also broadcast alerts about a wrong-way driver’s presence on electronic highway message boards; Providing a grant from available resources for implementing wrong-way driving countermeasures, to UConn to test and analyze the use of directional rumble strips to alert a driver through vibration and sound that he or she is driving the wrong way; The bill addresses wrong-way driving public awareness and education by requiring that information on ways to reduce wrong-way driving incidents and information on actions drivers should take when encountering a wrong-way driver be included in (1) a DOT public awareness campaign and (2) driver education program curriculum. The Department of Motor Vehicles must include this information in its regulations on driving school instructional standards; According to the Connecticut Department of Transportation, 2022 was the deadliest year in recent memory for fatal wrong way crashes here in Connecticut; there were 13 wrong way crashes and 23 fatalities. Most wrong-way drivers causing these crashes – over 80% of them – are impaired, and most wrong-way crashes happen between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. 2023 is on track to be even deadlier with 27 wrong-way crashes and 15 fatalities in just the first five months of the year.The Connecticut Department of Transportation has completed a wrong-way flasher pilot program and analyzed 700 highway ramps, considering risk factors including multiple off ramps that meet at the same location, wrong-way event history, presence of an alcohol-serving business within one-half mile of the ramp, presence of a raised median or guardrail separating the on and-off ramps, and lack of sufficient highway lighting. Through this analysis, DOT identified 236 locations as high-risk for wrong way driving events, developed a ranked priority list, and chose an initial 16 locations for installation through the pilot program in 2023. These installations include a 360-degree camera to detect vehicles and large, flashing wrong-ways signs that activate to warn the driver. The Department plans to install this technology on more ramps from the priority list after the initial pilot project locations, and future installations will add the ability to notify the Connecticut State Police in real time.

This legislation builds upon the already allocated $20 million in state bond funds that the Connecticut DOT has used to deploy wrong-way countermeasures throughout the state and an additional $20 million in bonds approved in Senate Bill 980.