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MDOT says new sensors can reduce traffic crashes

MDOT says new sensors can reduce traffic crashes

OTSEGO COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- New sensors being tried on Michigan roads are relaying real time, life-saving information in bad weather.

Drivers have to be on the lookout for road signs every day, but on sunny days when the snow melts, certain signs are often ignored.

“We do have some signs, like a ‘bridge ices before road,’ or ‘slippery pavement’ type sign that isn’t always applicable, so it tends to breed some disrespect among drivers," said Garrett Dawe, the north region operations engineer for MDOT. "They don’t tend to pay attention to them as much. So, the idea behind these systems is that we actively warn drivers when those conditions actually exist and enhance those signs so they will pay attention to them.”

Towers on the side of the road use infrared beams that constantly detect any ice or moisture on the road.

When they do, they automatically light up warning signs.

Right now, MDOT has the system installed on three different bridges and sharp curves around Otsego County.

“The three locations that we chose, I’ll say were over-represented in icy or snowy type traffic crashes, so that’s why we chose them," Dawe said. "They’re good conditions to monitor, because they’re in snowy and icy environments."

“I think it makes a lot of sense that they’re going to draw attention to them," said John Gardner, who commutes through Gaylord. "Motorists in general just don’t pay attention to stops that aren’t the obvious ones.”

MDOT says that so far, it looks like the active warning systems have been helping.

“We’ve noticed a lot of drivers, when they drive by these systems, they’re slowing down and driving appropriately for those conditions," Dawe said.

Two of the spots have only had the system for one winter, but on the I-75 overpass going over Charles Brink road, MDOT says the system has been in place since 2015 and crashes have go down by 38 percent.

There have also been no deaths or injuries

MDOT says it is still testing the active warning signals to see how effective they are before they decide on installing any more of them.

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