MANKATO The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) 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.
These signs warn motorists with sensors and flashing lights that are expected to reduce fatal and injury crashes at higher risk intersections.
The first warning system in Mankato/Windom MnDOT District 7 located at Highway 15 and Nicollet County Road 5 near Klossner should be running by mid-December. This intersection has experienced 10 crashes over the past 10 years (2003-12).
Plans are also in place for a RICWS to be installed at Highway 60 and Blue Earth County Road 20 in 2014
Rural intersections can be higher risk for a number of reasons, including the absence of grade separation, 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 motorists with better information so that motorists can prevent crashes", notes Scott Thompson, District 7 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."