BERNARDSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – A wrong-way crash killed two people on Route 20 in Charlton this week, the latest in a troubling trend. MassDOT has launched a pilot program to combat the problem including one system in Bernardston.
A deadly trend over the last decade continued to worsen in 2022. The rate of wrong-way crashes in Massachusetts increased by more than double the national rate between 2014 and 2018.
“With the lights, its just very confusing. The highway is confusing,” said Laura Cooper of Turners Falls.
There have been more than 30 deaths in such crashes in the state since 2014. The state has a plan, using new intervention systems. They carry a camera that detects wrong-way drivers, triggering a flashing array of warning lights.
22News went to Bernardston, the closest location of the pilot installations, to get people’s reaction now that they are up and running. Two people that declined to go on camera said it was nice the state is thinking about it and that they had already heard around town that it had stopped a potential deadly crash. Another resident called the apparatus an eyesore. The most outspoken worried about the consequences of change.
“I feel that its very confusing for the drivers that already know the road. I just feel like it is going to cause more accidents for those that already know the roads,” said Cooper.
Despite the mixed local reaction to this new safety equipment, its already doing its job. Shortly after it was installed, it was put to the test and passed with flying colors. Days after it was installed, a driver made it onto the ramp going the wrong way. The system alerted and the driver was able to safely turn around before they made it to the highway.
It’s a far safer option than before. Over the summer, a state trooper used their cruiser to stop a driver going the wrong way on I-91 through Bernardston.