ODOT making changes to prevent wrong-way driving

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) – It has been three months since a string of wrong way crashes left five people dead, and the Ohio Department of Transportation is now in the process of finalizing upgrades for traffic warning signs at highway off-ramps.

The goal of the upgrades is to make the changes as visible as possible. ODOT is planning to lower the height of wrong way signs, as well as add more route markers and arrows at on-ramps. The effort is an attempt to prevent dangerous wrong-way drivers.

Over a two-week period in March, three drivers went the wrong way on area highways, resulting in crashes that left five dead, including three Bowling Green State University sorority sisters on their way to spring break.

Months later, ODOT hopes to make changes to prevent drivers from going the wrong way.

Wrong way crashes are relatively infrequent but are more likely to produce serious injuries and fatalities, compared to other types of crashes. Driving the wrong way on freeways has been a traffic safety concern since the interstate highway system was developed.

On Wednesday, ODOT Crews were at the interchange of Interstate 475 and Route 25 in Perrysburg, the same location one driver got on an off-ramp going the wrong direction. Crews replaced old "do not enter" and "one way" signs with new ones that are larger, more reflective, and more prominent.

ODOT officials said the new signs are part of systemwide upgrades scheduled before the wrong way crashes happened. Additionally, ODOT is planning changes as a direct result of the wrecks, by installing new "wrong way" signs that are three feet off the ground. Research indicated a lower mounting height made the signs more visible at night. Lower signs are in the path of a car's headlights so impaired and older drivers, who tend to drive with their eyes low, can see them better as they look for visual cues from the pavement area.

The changes are planned for all interchanges in Lucas, Wood, Ottawa, Sandusky and Henry counties. They will cost $26,000 and should be completed by the end of the year.

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