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Look for new technology in state's rural highway signs

New technology is being incorporated into highway signs in rural Minnesota in an effort to reduce fatal and injury crashes.

Two of the new signs, which warn motorists with sensors and flashing lights, will be installed in Kandiyohi County in the next few months.

A total of 50 of the flashing warning signs will be installed on rural highways during the next year.

In Kandiyohi County the signs are being installed at two high-risk intersections, including the junction of state Highway 23 and Kandiyohi County Road 1.

The second sign in the county is at the intersection of U.S. Highway 71 and state Highway 9, which is northwest of New London and the site of several fatalities and serious injuries in recent years.

The “Rural Intersection Conflict Warning Systems,” which are also called collision avoidance systems, are being installed at rural intersections across the state.

The new signs will give motorists a real-time warning about oncoming traffic, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

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.”

According to MnDOT, the signs are expected to reduce fatal and injury crashes at intersections that are deemed to be high risk because of accident history.

According to Minnesota Crash Facts, fatal crashes tend to occur on roads in rural areas with higher speeds and with non-interstate designs (without separation between opposing lanes and without grade separated intersections).

In 2011, 225 crashes, or 67 percent, of all fatal crashes occurred in rural areas with populations of less than 5,000 people.

Ryan Barney, District 8 Traffic Engineer, said the warning systems will give motorist better information and warnings so that they can “change driving behavior before a crashes occurs.”

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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