I-Team: Inside look at new way to catch wrong-way drivers

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CLEVELAND -- The FOX 8 I-Team is giving you the first look at what Cleveland police dispatchers see and hear with a new system to spot wrong-way drivers at the moment they start getting on a highway, putting you in danger.

The new system is being tested by Cleveland police and the Ohio Department of Transportation at West 28th and the Shoreway.

Tuesday, the I-Team went into the Cleveland 911 center to get a look at how the system works to alert police.

Sensors capture when a car gets on the ramp going the wrong way, and that sets off flashing lights to alert the driver.

Meantime, cameras pick up the action, and dispatchers can see it from their workstations. They also hear an alarm.

Then, they can get patrol officers to that area to try to find the driver.

Just as the new system went online, a wrong-way driver went up the ramp onto the Shoreway. Video shows the driver turning onto the ramp, almost hitting another car, then continuing on up the ramp.

The detection system is being tested only at the West 28th ramp and an intersection in Columbus.

In the Cleveland 911 center, Dan Moore spoke about the Cleveland location. He said, "It's a tough intersection. So yes, I think it’s a good spot for it."

The on-ramp and the off-ramp are very close together. In fact, in the past, police have been called to incidents with wrong-way drivers right there.

Last year, statewide, the Ohio Department of Transportation recorded 27 wrong-way crashes. Just a tiny fraction of the total number of accidents overall. But during the last three years, the state found well over half of wrong-way crashes have been deadly.

As for the first car captured on camera by the new system going the wrong way, police did not find that driver.  That driver also did not crash. That points out one of the challenges of these cases. The new detection system does not stop a wrong-way driver, but it's designed to give police a few extra precious seconds to find the driver before another deadly crash.

Dan Moore said, "It’s helpful to at least get a broadcast out there and notify the cars.”

You’ll also find a couple of highway intersections in Cleveland that have extra wrong-way signs with flashing lights as part of the search to find the best way to do something about the danger.

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