HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut lawmakers, still grieving the death of a fellow legislator killed in a wrong-way crash in January, gave final legislative approval Friday to a bill that attempts to address the large increase in wrong-way crashes on the state’s roads.
The bill, which previously passed the House of Representatives, cleared the state Senate unanimously about six months after Rep. Quentin William’s death. It now heads to Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont’s desk.
It also comes as wrong-way crashes have become more prevalent and deadly in Connecticut. There were two crashes in 2020, four in 2021, 13 in 2022 resulting in 23 fatalities, and 27 so far in 2023 resulting in 15 deaths, said Democratic Sen. Christine Cohen.
“Sadly, we all know this all too well, the pain and anguish that is felt by family and friends and loved ones who lose somebody,” she said. “We lost a colleague here in January. I know it has shook this chamber, shook the House chamber, all of us to our very core.”
Williams, a 39-year-old Democrat from Middletown, died in a wrong-way crash as he returned home from the governor’s inaugural ball, state police said. The other driver also died.
The bill requires the state’s Department of Transportation to install wrong-way driving detection and notification systems on at least 120 high-risk highway exit ramps throughout Connecticut. Such systems could include flashing lights that alert drivers when they’re heading in the wrong direction, while also alerting police.
Also under the bill, the University of Connecticut will test the use of directional rumble strips. There’s also a new pilot program involving certain high-risk exit ramps where alerts about a wrong-way driver will appear on electronic highway message boards. Additionally, the bill calls for a wrong-way driver public awareness campaign.