ODOT unveils program to combat wrong-way drivers

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – On Tuesday ODOT unveiled a new wrong-way driver detection program designed to save lives on Ohio roads. If this new program is successful in the Cincinnati area, it could be implemented in other areas of the state. 

Wrong-way crashes are 40 times more deadly than regular crashes. While ODOT does not have plans to bring the detection system to the Miami Valley at this time, they are taking other steps to keep drivers safe. 

Dr. Jack Marchbanks, the Director of ODOT, says, “Wrong-way crashes are horrific, rare, and deadly.” 

Such crashes include the May 2017 crash on I-75 that blew up a semi, the February 2016 crash that killed five people including members of a band, and just this past St. Patrick’s Day, a family of three was killed on I-75. 

On Tuesday ODOT announced a new program near Cincinnati that uses radar and motion detection to alert drivers if they pass the wrong-way signs. 

Dr. Marchbanks says, “If the driver reaches the second set of signs, an alert is sent through ODOT’s Transportation Management Center so help can be dispatched.” 

ODOT picked a busy 18-mile stretch of I-71 for the $1.3 million motion detection program. It’s not in the Miami Valley yet. Mandi Dillon, a public information officer for ODOT says, “Right now, we’re monitoring the one in Cincinnati. There aren’t any current plans to do anything in Dayton, but that could always change.” 

ODOT says most incidents happen at night and many of them involve impaired drivers. They’re trying to find specific ways to alert those drivers, including doubling up their road signs. 

Dr. Marchbanks says, “Research shows impaired drivers tend to look down and not up. This has helped some, but the problem persists.” 

Montgomery County is one of 17 counties ODOT is studying to keep drivers off wrong-way ramps, that includes restriping, reflectivity, and additional signage. 

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