New Electronic 'Wrong Way' Signs Come To 23 Highways In Cincinnati

Jul 23, 2019

The Ohio Department of Transportation is expanding an effort to detect and stop motorists from going the wrong way.

ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks says they are trying different ways to grab drivers' attention. "Many of these drivers are impaired, which is why we added signs closer to the ground," he explains. "Research shows impaired drivers tend to look down and not up."

New signage is being installed along an 18-mile stretch of I-71 in Hamilton County. The one-way signs include LED lights that indicate to drivers they are going the wrong way.

"When the driver reaches the second set of signs, an alert is sent to our traffic management center in Columbus so help can be dispatched," Marchbanks says. The traffic management center then reaches out to the closest law enforcement officer to respond.

The camera does not automatically generate a ticket - only a police officer can do that. 

ODOT says wrong way crashes made up 0.01 of all crashes in Ohio last year.

Jack Marchbanks announces ODOT's new signage at the Fields-Ertel exit off I-71.
Credit Ambriehl Crutchfield / WVXU

"It's a very small percentage of accidents that happen this way but when they do they're catastrophic typically," Cincinnati Police Department Public Information Officer Steve Saunders says.

This detection system has been piloted in Columbus and Cleveland. ODOT says the response rate hasn't been confirmed since police haven't had to respond yet.

Signs will be added from downtown Cincinnati to the Fields-Ertel road exit.