Ohio Works to Make Wrong-Way Signs More Visible

June 18, 2012

Several wrong-way auto accidents in northern Ohio, including a crash that killed three sorority sisters, have led the state’s highway department to put up new signs designed to prevent drivers from going the wrong way.

The signs are going up at all highway interchanges in five counties in northwest Ohio and will be mounted lower than usual to help make them more visible in vehicle headlights at night. The state is also increasing markers and pavement arrows to clarify proper routes on side-by-side entrance and exit ramps.

All of the changes are being limited to interchanges in Toledo and its suburbs, along with four surrounding counties – Henry, Sandusky and Wood and Ottawa – in response to the recent wrong-way crashes, said Theresa Pollick, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation.

Two fatal wrong-way accidents in the Toledo area killed six people within two weeks in March.

In one, a driver on Interstate 75 slammed head-on into car carrying five Bowling Green State University students who were leaving for a spring break trip in March. Three of the young women died along with the wrong-way driver.

Ten days later, two men from Monroe, Mich., died when their car hit a cargo truck near downtown Toledo on I-75.

Since then, highway officials have been looking into whether changes were needed and reviewing procedures in place around the country.

Research showed that putting signs at a lower height will make them more visible at night to older drivers and impaired drivers, who look for cues from the pavement ahead, Pollick said.

The additional signs will cost about $25,000, Pollick said. Workers should finish putting up the new signs by the end of the year.

State numbers show 32 wrong-way crashes caused five deaths in Ohio last year. Such crashes are more likely to result in serious injuries and deaths, the state said.

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