State explores new ways to prevent wrong-way drivers

State explores new ways to prevent wrong-way drivers


WALLINGFORD — As state police continue to investigate a wrong-way crash that killed a Meriden woman over Labor Day weekend, the state Department of Transportation is exploring new technology to deter wrong-way drivers.

On Sunday afternoon, Concetta Getman, 77, of Meriden, was driving north on Interstate 91 south near Exit 15 when she collided head-on with a southbound vehicle, according to state police. Getman died at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

The other driver, 41-year-old Sachin V. Patel, and his passenger, 16-year-old Sahil Patel, both of Watertown, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

State police spokesman Eric Haglund said Tuesday the crash remains under investigation.

There have been 54 wrong-way crashes in the state since 2015, according to the University of Connecticut Crash Data Repository.

State DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said the state is looking for new ways to prevent wrong-way drivers. New technology that uses radar and electronic signs would detect a vehicle entering a ramp in the wrong direction and display and sound a message to alert the wrong-way driver.

The technology would also alert other motorists through message signs that a wrong-way driver is approaching.

Nursick said the technology could be implemented next year.

“We’d like to find a location where we can pilot this,” Nursick said. “These newer technologies are promising, but they’re certainly not a guarantee.”

“We know for a fact that drugs or alcohol are overwhelmingly involved with these types of crashes,” Nursick added. They “have catastrophic consequences and more often than not involve fatalities.”

In a multimillion-dollar program that concluded last year, the state DOT replaced and upgraded wrong-way signs on all of the state’s 700 highway ramps, Nursick said. New signs are more reflective, more visible and strategically positioned. Each ramp has at least two wrong-way signs, two one-way signs, and two do-not-enter signs.
Twitter: @BryanLipiner

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