Witnesses are speaking after almost crashing into a 70-year-old woman driving north in the southbound lanes of State Route 347 on Monday night.
Carrie Call was driving home to Maricopa when her husband noticed something was wrong. Their 7-month-old son was in the backseat.
“I saw headlights and said, 'Why does it look like that car is coming right at us?' And my husband says, 'That’s because it is… get over!'” she recalled.
Luckily, she didn’t crash or cause one.
“I had to swerve into my right-hand lane to miss because she was coming right at us,” she explained. “I swerved over just in the nick of time.”
[SPECIAL SECTION: Wrong-way Drivers]
“It could’ve been us,” she said. “It’s just overwhelming because that’s somewhere we drive every single day… back and forth twice a day.”
Call wished more lights would be installed along SR 347 to make it safer.
Tami Maddix works in Chandler and was on her way to her brother’s house in Maricopa when she saw someone swerve in front of her. She’s glad she didn’t crash too. She saw the wrong-way driver whiz past her driver’s side door.
“I was in shock. I was like, OK, that was a close call,” she said. “I’m very thankful that it wasn’t me involved. My heart does go out to all the people that were involved. It’s a sad situation.”
She’s trying to figure out how the woman got onto the wrong side of the highway and is frustrated that more wrong-way driving crashes keep happening.
“I just don’t know what the solution is to it all,” said Maddix.
The Arizona Department of Transportation wrote in an emailed statement that its Interstate 17 wrong-way vehicle detection and warning system has been “promising.”
So far, a total of 90 of the system’s cameras have been installed along a 15-mile stretch of I-17 from the Stack to the Loop 101.
The $4 million project has been in operation since January 2018.
“The system, designed to detect wrong-way vehicles and get the attention of wrong-way drivers and alert DPS, ADOT and other drivers on the freeway, has made more than a dozen detections on off-ramps and frontage roads. To our knowledge, none of these vehicles has entered the freeway," ADOT said.
[RELATED: VIDEO: ADOT's thermal cameras detect two wrong-way drivers]
None of this technology is placed near SR 347. No word if ADOT will consider placing it there yet.
However, ADOT anticipates installing it on the new Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway, which is scheduled to open in late 2019.
Monday's incident marks the 25th wrong-way crash in Arizona this year.
According to DPS, now a total of 11 people have died in wrong-way crashes in 2018 to date.
Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.