Radar-based sensor could prevent crashes

By Laurie Hamame - lhamame@aimmediamidwest.com

Traffic signal upgrades at US 20 and Rt. 58 have been approved by Oberlin city council in hopes of increasing safety at the high-crash intersection.

“There was a women killed there just a month ago, so it’s good to hear that improvements could be made to reduce traffic accidents at the intersection,” said council president Bryan Burgess.

Wavetronics radar detectors will be installed in all four directions and also at stop markings on the pavement. The system sensor transmits hundreds of continuous radar pulses to calculate how long it will take a vehicle to halt.

Driving toward an intersection when the traffic light changes from green to yellow poses a dilemma to drivers, said Ohio Department of Transportation spokesperson Crystal Neelon. Drivers can either slam on the brakes and risk being rear-ended or try to speed through the light and risk a collision or a ticket.

The sensor can signal the controller to extend the traffic signal light cycle to protect vehicles that may be moving into and through the intersection. If there are vehicles in the “dilemma zone,” the sensor communicates to the controller to extend the green light.

When no oncoming perpendicular traffic is detected, the installations will provide for shorter signal cycles.

A video camera is already installed at the intersection, using light to detect vehicles. But it’s not as effective because of sun glare.

The Wavetronics system cannot be used to issue citations. Neither can it be converted to a photo-ticket system without a change in Ohio law, Neelon said. The system is already being used on many roads.

The cost is estimated to be $449,529 with no funding required by the city. ODOT will cover 100 percent of eligible costs, which includes a $42,000 safety grant, and is responsible for design, bidding, and managing the construction of the project.

According to an ODOT study, there is at least a 38 percent reduction in intersection crashes when detection systems replace looping cycles. Traffic signal upgrades will also be installed in 18 locations in Ashland, Erie, Lorain, Huron, Medina, and Wayne counties because US 20 is considered a freight route.

This project will be bid in June with construction scheduled from July through November. Installation is done above the road, so traffic flow will not be disrupted.

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

By Laurie Hamame