Red arrow yields fewer MF accidents

MARTINS FERRY – The red turning arrow in the northbound turning lane of Ohio 7 in Martins Ferry thus far has been operating as intended.

What once was a hot bed of automotive accident activity has been – thus far – accident free.

“Nothing yet, knock on wood,” said Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland when asked about the total number of accidents since the signal change. “Hopefully it stays that way.”

To remain completely accident free is asking a bit much, but the frequency of such accidents appears will be severely curtailed.

The Ohio Department of Transportation placed a new traffic signal atop the actual turning lane instead of just a sign.

That signal now, after the green turning arrow expires, changes to a red turning arrow.

It takes the guesswork and danger out of trying to whip across the southbound lane of traffic in an effort to turn onto Hanover Street during a solid green that motorists used to try to navigate.

There was always a question of “Can I make it?” Most did make it, some didn’t. Now, that’s no longer an issue.

It may take a little longer to turn onto Hanover, but safety has increased tenfold.

“I’ve noticed the traffic flow, the left-hand turning lane is a bit longer because you don’t have that constant flow of traffic going through there,” McFarland said.

“There’s a bit more backup, but we haven’t had any problems yet.”

The future plans of ODOT to install turning lanes in the northbound side of Ohio 7 will also assist in safety at the intersection, along with the one further south that turns into the shopping district at Aetnaville.

That’s not coming until 2016.

But McFarland believes the major cause of issues at Ohio 7 and Hanover has been taken care of already.

“That was the biggest accident-causing situation, people not yielding to southbound traffic,” McFarland said.

The next issue is speeding, which McFarland noted is still an issue.

Motorists still aren’t wanting to slow down, and his department is still out clocking speeders and writing tickets.

McFarland also noted he’s not sure the frequency of motorists either forgetting about the new traffic signal – or ignoring it – and running the red arrow to turn onto Hanover St., but he’s sure it’s happening.

They’re working on possible ways of enforcing the new signal, but the angle officers need to be positioned in order to enforce this issue also places their vehicles in open view of drivers.

Few are willing to run red lights in open view of a police cruiser.

“It’s kind of a tough light to enforce,” McFarland said. “We haven’t had any situations with it yet, but we’ve had a couple of different ideas on how to enforce it.

“We are going to wait and see and continue to monitor to see if it gets to the point where we need an officer down there.”

Hughes may be reached at