In April 2012, Emily Ludwig’s sister was driving north on Route 7 in Columbiana County with her two children and their dog when a driver traveling in the opposite direction crossed the centerline and hit their van head-on.

The children survived, but mom Amanda Bibbee and the dog were killed.

Two years later, Ludwig’s other sister, Meghann Nign, her husband, Jamie Nign, and one of their daughter’s friends were all killed in another head-on collision with a car that crossed the center and hit their SUV as they drove on Route 518, also in Columbiana County.

“Not only our family was affected on those days,” said Ludwig, a Columbiana County native, in testimony before the House Transportation and Public Safety Committee. “Ten children lost parents on those days. My parents lost children. I lost my sisters. I’m sure the ones who caused the accidents, (their) lives will forever be changed.”

Now, a bill moving through the state legislature would add a potential preventative measure to make two-lane state highways safer: centerline rumble strips.

Rumble strips are narrow areas of raised or depressed road surface. They can either extend across an entire lane of traffic or along the shoulder or center of a road. The strips cause vibration and a rumbling sound inside a vehicle, which notifies drivers of unusual traffic conditions ahead or that they are drifting out of their lane.

House Bill 51 would require the Ohio Department of Transportation to install the strips for all two-way state highways that have a speed limit more than 45 mph. The bill would cost ODOT between $700 and $1,025 per mile to install rumble strips on the required highways.

The cost would be spread over several years. The bill states that the strips would be added during the construction of a new state highway and during major repair work or repaving of existing highways.

Rep. Timothy E. Ginter, R-Salem, is the chief sponsor of the bill. He said hearing Ludwig’s story prompted him to pursue the issue.

“The center of the discussion has always been the recognition that we are talking about human lives. We’re talking about saving human lives here,” Ginter said.

“Down the road, it will be gratifying to know that families won’t have to go through the heartache of loss of a loved one because we implemented even simple measures to make driving on our highways safer.”

Ginter says ODOT is supportive of the measure in concept. An ODOT spokesman said the department is in conversation with Ginter about ensuring that the strips are installed in places where they are actually needed.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation, centerline rumble strips reduce fatal and injury crashes by 38% to 50% on rural two-lane roads, and by 37% to 91% on urban two-lane roads. Last year, the department of transportation in Georgia published a report that found a 42% reduction in crashes in which a driver crosses the centerline after the installation of the strips.

Gov. Mike DeWine also is supportive of the measure. For Ludwig, seeing the interest from others is encouraging.

“It’s honestly really heartwarming,” she said. “It’s nice to know that other people care. More than anything, my family just wants to know that this isn’t going to happen to somebody else’s family.”

bdeeter@dispatch.com

@BenDeeter