Ohio installs technology to warn against 'end-of-queue' crashes

Interstate highway in Ohio

Ohio recently announced a new initiative that will use technology to detect traffic congestion and warn drivers of dangerous slow-downs ahead.

The new warning systems will be installed at 13 highway sites in and around major urban centers that have been identified by the Ohio Department of Transportation as high-congestion, high-crash areas. When cameras at these 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 OHGO and other traffic apps.

"As technology continues to evolve, we're always looking for new ways to help prevent serious and fatal crashes on our highways," said Gov. MikeDeWine. "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.

According to ODOT, end-of-queue highway crashes have been increasing over the past three years to 8,811 crashes in 2023. Once the technology is installed at all 13 sites, ODOT anticipates it will help reduce these rear-end crashes by at least 16%, which equates to a reduction of around 1,400 crashes.

ODOT activated the first of these 13 automatic traffic queue warning systems recently on Interstate 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. All 13 sites were selected based on factors such as traffic congestion and the number and severity of rear-end crashes.

ODOT expects all systems to be operational within two years.

ODOT said it is also evaluating highway locations in other parts of the state that could benefit from the new technology.

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