Are spike strips on Ohio highway ramps the answer to wrong way crashes?

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - For the second time in two weeks, a driver has died on a Northeast Ohio highway because they drove the wrong way on an exit ramp into oncoming traffic.

Has the state of Ohio has ever considered putting spike strips on ramps to puncture tires of cars going the wrong way?

"The issue of putting spike strips on highway ramps has been studied numerous times over the decades," said Matt Bruning, press secretary for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). "Each time the studies have concluded that due to the speeds and traffic volumes seen on highway ramps, these devices won't function properly and actually present a significant danger to motorists driving in the correct direction."

There are actually several problems that would keep these devices from working.

Spike strips are usually used in parking lots and garages at the exits to keep people from sneaking into lots going the wrong way.

When cars exit a lot the speed is usually 5 mph or slower.

An extensive study was done by the Texas Department of Transportation.

"They are not designed to work at high-speed, high-volume traffic locations such as freeway exit ramps," the report states. "If such a system was
installed, the freeway exit speeds would have to be lowered to the design speed of the destructive system (5 mph). This would result in significant traffic backups on urban freeways."

More harm than good

Because the devices are built for lower speeds they may actually malfunction if installed on ramps where cars going the correct way damage the spikes over time.

"During testing, under high-volume and high speed traffic conditions, the spikes broke, leaving stubs that damaged the tires of right-way vehicles," the Texas report states.

The report also finds that climates, like here in Ohio, will cause the devices to malfunction.

"During an ice storm, the freezing conditions may prevent the spikes from folding down when driven over in the right direction," the report states. "Over time, dirt, debris, etc. will build up within the devices, impeding the ability of the device to fully fold down as intended."

Handling the real problem

According to Bruning with ODOT the real problem is drunk and impaired driving and ODOT has tried to address that in different ways.

"Because the vast majority of these wrong way drivers are severely impaired, we've included signs at a lower level because research shows impaired drivers tend to look down," said Bruning. "Ultimately, if we can simply get people to stop driving impaired, we'll stop nearly all wrong way drivers."

Below are the rest of the conclusions found by the Texas Department of Transportation:

Follow Dan DeRoos on Facebook and Twitter. Have a question you want him to answer? Email him at

Copyright 2017 WOIO. All rights reserved.