CLEVELAND- The FOX 8 I-Team has found state Department of Transportation plows played a hidden role for security during last week’s Republican National Convention. And the same thing crews did last week could make a difference on your highways when the snow flies.
We’ve learned ODOT had 15 plows out on local highways last week in mid-July, and those plows had cameras feeding back LIVE video that was recorded as well.
ODOT had said it planned for lots of heavy equipment to stay on the highways during the convention week, so crews would be right there to quickly move debris or help clear an accident and keep traffic moving. In fact, in some cases the crews did that.
But we’ve found the plows with cameras also served as extra eyes for police in case protestors tried to block a highway. And, the cameras in the heavy equipment are actually part of a larger study.
"The cameras that are in those trucks are part of a bigger project ODOT is doing with the University of Akron," said ODOT spokesperson Amanda McFarland. She says ODOT has been testing cameras in 184 trucks in ten counties. They can help supervisors see actual road conditions, and if need be, adjust how the crews are working to clear snow and ice.
McFarland added, "If there's a whiteout condition, and drivers are reporting it, we can verify it, and you know, maybe we need to send a plow to that area for an extra hour or so."
Locally, ODOT has been testing the cameras in Summit and Medina Counties. Not clear when the state may decide whether to start using the cameras in every truck, or even more trucks. The state is considering the cost, how the equipment holds up in severe winter weather, whether mountains or hills affect the cameras and more.
Drivers we met were surprised to learn of the special role of the cameras during the Convention, and they’re anxious for anything that can help make driving in winter weather easier. As one woman put it, “It’s coming.”