Many high-risk intersections in rural Minnesota areas will hopefully be site to less crashes, thanks to intelligent transportation systems that will soon be installed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
MnDOT is installing Rural Intersection Conflict Warning Systems at 54 intersections across the state. According to MnDOT, the sites were chosen based on various criteria, such as low visibility before the intersection, the nearby presence of a railroad or commercial development and previous crash history.
“The system gives real-time warning to motorists approaching a stop sign that there is traffic approaching and also warns drivers on the road without the stop sign that a vehicle is stopped or entering the intersection,” Ken Hansen, RICIW project manager, said.
These systems will be used at stop-controlled intersections to let drivers know when vehicles are nearing the intersection. The system uses traditional road signs, as well as sensor-triggered flashing lights that are activated when traffic approaches an intersection.
“Drivers should always obey the stop signs as they approach an intersection, but the added technology is designed to be an additional safety message,” Hansen said.
Although some may think that rural areas may experience less crashes due to such areas’ smaller populations, around 66 percent of fatal crashes in Minnesota happen on rural roads. In 2014, 324 fatal crashes occurred statewide and 214 of those were in areas where the population was less than 1,000.
“Injuries in rural areas are usually serious injuries and fatalities,” Hansen said. “Emergency response often takes longer because of the distance between cities. We think these systems will make a difference in reducing crashes and saving lives.”
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that 62 percent of crashes in rural stop-controlled intersections occurred when drivers stopped and looked around their surroundings, but didn’t see the other vehicle and proceeded into the intersection. According to MnDOT, 26 percent of right-angle crashes at stop-controlled intersections were caused by drivers failing to stop.
Article written by Russell Barnes, published by 5 Eyewitness News.