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Engineer: Wrong-way driving prevention efforts a success, despite recent crashes

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As Rhode Island officials continue to look for ways to prevent drivers from getting onto the highway going the wrong direction, two more drivers are suspected of doing so and causing crashes while under the influence.

Rhode Island State Police say Corey Stott Miller was driving north in the southbound lanes of Route 4 in East Greenwich when he side-swiped another vehicle Saturday night.

Then, at 2 a.m. Sunday on I-95 North, police say Cameron Wambolt hit another vehicle while traveling southbound, resulting in minor injuries.

Miller, 28, of Pawtucket, and Wambolt, 25, of West Warwick, were both arrested on DUI charges.

“There could have been six fatalities on the highway,” Rhode Island State Police Sgt. Greg Cunningham said.

The R.I. Department of Transportation and other state leaders have for years been trying to prevent wrong-way driving on the state’s highways, but they say there’s only so much they can do.

“The result is usually a serious injury or fatality, so these are the most severe types of crashes we can have,” RIDOT engineer Robert Rocchio said Monday.

Travel Guide: Wrong-Way Driving »

Back in 2015, RIDOT installed two dozen wrong-way detection systems across the state, paid for with $2 million in federal funds. The systems alert drivers they’re going the wrong way, and can also let drivers know another vehicle is heading their way.

Rocchio said the program has been successful so far.

“Other states are looking at what we’re doing, looking at our results and implementing nationwide,” he added.

A second phase of the project is set to get underway this summer, according to Rocchio. He said RIDOT will use data from the first phase to add or extend medians and islands in hopes of making on-ramps more clear.

The state this year is also dedicating $3 million for campaigns to end drunk driving.

“We can only do so much from an engineering or infrastructure standpoint,” Rocchio said. “We really need people to change their behavior and not drive impaired.”

Rocchio expects work on the second phase to be finished by the end of the year.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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