New Signs to Warn Drivers on Deadly Rural Roads

Updated: 06/10/2014 7:09 PM
Created: 06/10/2014 6:59 PM
By: Hannah Tran

(ABC 6 News) -- Officials say that over half of all fatal crashes in Minnesota happen in high-speed rural intersections with minimal signing. In these less-populated areas, drivers can sometimes miss spotting a stop sign before crossing over a highway.

Highway 63 and County Road 21 and Highway 42 and County Road 9 are among the deadliest intersections in rural Olmsted County.

"Often times a person either doesn't see the stop sign or they choose a gap that's too small out and pull out into the intersection," said Nancy Klema, a traffic engineer.

Besides a stop sign, there were only light posts at these deadly intersections to alert the driver of a high speed highway. Now, there will be flashing signs whenever there's oncoming traffic for major and minor road intersections with high numbers of fatal crashes.

"The types of intersections we're installing these at are what we call 'thru-stop' intersections, so the main highway has the right of way and the side street has to stop," said Klema.

Vehicles driving on a highway will see the message "entering traffic" when someone is about to cross the highway or turn onto the highway itself.

"It is just one more tool to kind of alert the drivers to be attentive," said Mike Dougherty of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Vehicles driving on a county road to hop on or cross a highway will see the message "approaching traffic" to better know when to wait or go.

"These lights are only going to be flashing when there's actually traffic approaching," said Klema.

Little squares on the county roads and highways with the alert systems are embedded with sensors that detect oncoming traffic. Although this project is a new addition, traffic experts still have a timeless reminder.

"Distraction and inattention, sadly, are the cause of many of our crashes," said Klema.

Statewide, there will be about 50 installations of the flashing signs. In our local district, there will be about 13 of them.