Ohio DOT Unveils Traffic Congestion Detection System

The Ohio Department of Transportation recently launched a new system designed to detect traffic congestion and subsequently warn motorists of dangerous highway slow-downs.

[Above photo by the Ohio DOT]

That new warning system technology has been installed at 13 highway sites in and around major urban centers across Ohio that have been identified by the agency as “high-congestion, high-crash” areas.

When cameras at those sites detect slow or stopped traffic, they will automatically trigger a message board a few miles away to alert approaching drivers of the upcoming traffic hazard. Alerts will also be pushed to mobile traffic applications as well, the Ohio DOT said.

The agency noted it activated the first of the 13 automatic traffic queue warning systems on I-70 westbound at State Route 310 in Licking County; near the site of the November 2023 fatal rear-end crash involving a charter bus carrying students from the Tuscarawas Valley Local School District.

Gov. DeWine. Photo by the Ohio DOT.

“As technology continues to evolve, we’re always looking for new ways to help prevent serious and fatal crashes on our highways,” said Governor Mike DeWine (R) in a statement. “Although we’re confident that these warning systems will help prevent crashes, there is still no substitute for safe driving. For these signs to be effective, drivers must be paying attention.”

The new warning systems are specifically geared at reducing deadly “end-of-queue” crashes that occur when highway drivers fail to recognize slowing or stopped traffic, resulting in a collision with vehicles at the end of the slow-down, added Jack Marchbanks, Ohio DOT’s director.

“I’m incredibly proud of the efforts our team has made to ensure Ohio is leading the way when it comes to deploying these new resources,” he said. “These new warning systems, combined with Ohio’s toughened distracted driving laws, will surely save lives.”

According to Ohio DOT, end-of-queue highway crashes have been increasing over the past three years to 8,811 crashes in 2023. Once installed at all 13 sites, the agency anticipates the new system will help reduce rear-end crashes by at least 16 percent which equates to a reduction of around 1,400 crashes.

The automated traffic queue warning systems use similar technology to Ohio DOT’s wrong-way driver detection systems – currently in place in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus – that alert drivers who mistake exit ramps for on-ramps. So far, those systems have detected nearly 300 wrong-way drivers, the agency said.

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