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DPS: Number Of Wrong-Way Incidents Don't Tell Whole Story

Early Thursday morning, a wrong-way driver was killed after he collided with a truck on northbound Interstate 17, and earlier this week, a wrong-way driver collided into five vehicles.

It seems like the number of wrong-way incidents are on the rise, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Year to date there have been 698 reports of wrong-way drivers, last year at this time, there were 740. That may sound like a lot, but as Department of Public Safety Trooper Kameron Lee said, those figures aren’t a true representation of what’s happening on roadways.

"This data, these reports of wrong-way drivers, often times does not turn out to be a wrong-way driver, but when it’s called in as a wrong way, and we go investigate and find out it was not we still record that," Lee said. 

As far as fatalities are concerned, Lee says last year there were 10, after today’s incident the total for this year is 11.

When it comes to arrests, Lee says 36 wrong-way drivers have been arrested this year. Last year, that number 42. Lee says impairment is the biggest contributing factor to wrong-way driving.

Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.