BOSTON (CBS) – Faith Jorge of Taunton said she was lucky to survive when a wrong-way driver crashed into her car on the Southeast Expressway in Dorchester back in 2011.
“She smashed into us head-on and we rolled over two times and hit the Jersey barrier,” she said.READ MORE: Large Search Underway Near Newburyport Boat Club For Missing Man Kevin Mahoney
It’s a sound she says nine years later still plays over and over in her head. She injured her shoulder and broke several ribs.
“To this day it’s still scary. I’m petrified to drive on the highway, even now,” Jorge said.
These types of crashes may seem rare, but 80 people have died in crashes involving drivers going the wrong way on Massachusetts highways in the past decade. There have also been several in just the past few weeks.
One person was killed on the Expressway in Milton in October and in November, three people were injured when a driver going west on the eastbound side of the Mass Pike crashed into an ambulance in Natick.
“It’s a big enough problem that it’s something we’ve been regularly trying to address,” said MassDOT Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver.
MassDOT is now working with Pine Ride Technologies out of North Reading to come up with a similar system to one used on two dozen highway ramps in Rhode Island.
When a driver enters the wrong way on a ramp, a radar system triggers warning lights along the ramp. The idea is to get drivers to correct their mistake before they reach the highway.READ MORE: Trial For Man Charged With Killing Yarmouth Police Sgt. Sean Gannon Set To Begin
“In the case of Rhode Island, they had 150 wrong-way events since May of 2015 [with] no fatalities and only one crash,” Gulliver said.
The system also alerts State Police and MassDOT’s 24-hour operations center.
“We can activate other signs to give drivers that might be in the area the message there’s wrong way driver,” he said.
The onramps to Route 128 near the Burlington Mall are among the 17 exits that will be part of the pilot program. Others include ramps to the Mass Pike in Allston and South Boston, Route 3 in Plymouth, Route 6 in Barnstable and Route 195 in Fall River.
The sites were carefully chosen by MassDOT.
“Where there may be driver confusion, where we’ve had a wrong way driver enter before,” Gulliver said.
Jorge thinks it’s a great idea and said she hopes it works.
“That would be amazing. If I had known there was someone coming on the highway, I could have pulled over,” she said.MORE NEWS: Coronavirus In Massachusetts: Today's Developments
MassDOT expects to start installing the systems after the first of the year and they should be up and running by next summer. If all goes well, more ramps could be added in the future.