Each year, an average of 359 people are killed by wrong-way driving collisions in the United States. This number of fatalities has remained steady since the interstate highway system was built in the 1950's. To tackle this serious traffic safety problem, Hugo Zhou, associate professor of civil engineering, has been working to identify contributing factors to wrong-way accidents and develop innovative countermeasures to reduce the number of crashes caused by wrong-way drivers.
Zhou’s work in this area won the High Impact Project Award from the Illinois Center for Transportation in March, and since then, the Illinois Department of Transportation has initiated a statewide, $7 million project to implement interchange improvements developed in his project, including improving wrong-way signs and pavement markings on exit ramps to reduce the state’s fatality rate. Zhou and his research team are now focusing their research on Alabama’s roadways. The team is looking to study wrong-way crashes that have occurred in the past five years, identify high crash locations for field observations, and develop general and site-specific countermeasures for reducing wrong-way crashes.