The Ohio Department of Transportation is testing out new technology aimed at stopping wrong-way crashes on the highway. Signs and detectors are being installed along an 18-mile stretch of I-71 in the Cincinnati area.
The $1.2 million system includes 92 electronic signs and 82 detection devices at 23 locations, including the on- and off-ramps. When drivers attempt to drive the wrong direction, LED lights around the edge of several "Wrong Way" and "Do Not Enter" signs begin blinking.
And if they proceed, the sensors will immediately alert law enforcement and ODOT's Traffic Management Center in Columbus.
Thanks to @ODOT_Statewide for helping our drivers stay safe by alerting wrong way entries onto I-71 in @CityOfCincy & along the I-71 corridor up to the Fields Ertel exit. This system will also alert @CincyPD & other area agencies that a wrong way driver has entered the highway. pic.twitter.com/9K9sLuqISw
— Cincinnati Police Department (@CincyPD) July 23, 2019
ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning says technology will be monitored for effectiveness and if it is successful, it could be implemented throughout the state in the future. He says the goal of the new technology is to prevent wrong way crashes.
“While they are extremely rare, they are usually very serious crashes that happen," Bruning says. "So we know they are 40 times more likely to be deadly than other types of crashes."
According to a press release, that section of I-71 was chosen based on a survey of 911 calls, number of crashes, volume of traffic, and proximity to "alcohol establishments." The devices have also been used in more limited tests on I-670 to Neil Avenue in Columbus, and on SR-2 in Cleveland.
Wrong-way crashes made up only 0.01% of all crashes in Ohio last year.