Local News

NCDOT: NC part of multi-state study to reduce wrong-way crashes

Posted November 6, 2017 6:19 p.m. EST

— One of the people killed in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 540 early Sunday morning was just a few exits from work.

Naisha Virginia Boneque, a Transportation Security Administration supervisor, was heading to work at Raleigh-Durham International Airport when she was hit by a vehicle driven by Kevin Marcel Dunkin, who was traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes.

Boneque, a 31-year-old former Airman, and Dunkin both died at the scene.

Wrong-way signs warn drivers who are traveling the wrong direction on the highway, but they don't always work, especially if the driver is under the influence.

"If you are going to have someone going the wrong way on the road, especially at night, you are going to have fatalities," said Steve Abbott, a North Carolina Department of Transportation spokesman.

According to the NCDOT, there were more than 500 wrong-way crashes between 2000 and 2016, with 145 people killed and another 643 injured.

While wrong-way crashes represent only 0.2 percent of crashes on North Carolina highways, officials would like to eliminate them.

"We've put up some bigger signs in some locations. We've put some reflective striping in some locations. Again, we have to wait a while because, if it is a ramp that no one ever goes the wrong-way, is it successful, or did (the driver) never have the opportunity to turn around?" Abbott said.

Abbott says North Carolina is also part of multi-state study into possible solutions for reducing wrong-way crashes.

One of the possibilities are thermal detection cameras, which are currently used in Arizona. The camera detects cars going in the wrong direction, the system alerts the wrong-way driver, and well as other drivers and police using flashing lights on freeway ramps.

It is not clear why Dunkin was traveling the wrong way on I-540. Authorities could not confirm if alcohol was a factor in the crash.