The Minnesota Department of Transportation is deploying Rural Intersection Conflict Warning Systems (RICWS) at rural intersections across the state which use technology on signs to give motorists real-time warning about oncoming traffic, also referred to as collision avoidance systems.
These signs warn motorists with sensors and flashing lights that are expected to reduce fatal and injury crashes at higher risk intersections.
Throughout MnDOT District 8, motorists will see these systems being placed at the following intersections, beginning today (Thursday, June 5) at Highway 23 and Lyon County Road 30 in Marshall and the following week at Highways 212 and 22 near Glencoe.
Rural intersections can be higher risk for a number of reasons, including: at grade, higher speeds, driver complacency with lower volumes of traffic, and longer distances that emergency medical and trauma teams travel to transport victims.
According to Minnesota Crash Facts, fatal crashes tend to occur on roads in rural areas with higher speeds and with non-interstate designs (separation between opposing lanes and grade separated intersections, etc.) In 2011, 225 crashes, or 67 percent, of all fatal crashes occurred in rural areas with populations of less than 5,000 people.
“To help combat rural intersection crashes, RICWS systems will provide motorist with better information , or warning, so motorists can change driving behavior before a crashes occurs”, notes Ryan Barney, District 8 Traffic Engineer.
The proposed dynamic warning signs with flashing beacons will advise drivers on major roads with a message “Entering Traffic When Flashing.” Motorists on minor roads will see flashing beacons and the message “Traffic Approaching When Flashing.” The RICWS systems will be installed at 20 rural intersections statewide with another 30 planned over the next two summers, for a total of 50 systems with this initial deployment.
MnDOT is a partner with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and the Minnesota Department of Health in the Toward Zero Death initiative (TZD), which integrates the use of education, engineering, enforcement, and emergency medical and trauma services in communities to reduce traffic fatalities and injuries on Minnesota roads. It is the hope that these systems will continue us on our path towards that goal of Towards Zero Deaths.