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New Warning System May Make Rural Intersections Safer

Posted at: 07/30/2013 4:42 PM
Updated at: 07/31/2013 11:02 AM
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

A team in Duluth is testing a new warning system that could make some rural intersections safer.

It's a wireless, solar powered system that will alert cars if there are other vehicles approaching the intersection. It's the first of its kind in Saint Louis County.

The test system is at Lismore and Lakewood Road in Lakewood Township. Traffic Engineer Victor Lund said intersections like that one can be dangerous.

He said about 25 percent of serious crashes in Saint Louis County happen at rural intersections with a two-way stop.

"That's the whole point behind this project is to move Minnesota toward zero deaths," Lund said.

The system works using flashing lights on the stop sign, but then a second vehicle approaching sign will flash if a car is coming into the intersection. Research showed drivers waited longer at the stop sign when the vehicle approaching sign was flashing.

People who use the intersection often seem to like the change.

"I think it's great especially because I have a lot of kids," driver Carina Simonson said. "Plus, my daughter just got her permit and she pays a lot of attention to that sign."

Researchers also sent out about 200 surveys to people who live close to the intersection. UMD Research Assistant Husam Ismail said 90 percent of the feedback was positive.

"Feels great, believe me opening each survey and looking at the positive feedback," Ismail said. "It gives a good feeling you achieved what you planned for."

A similar system through MnDOT will be coming to Saint Louis County this fall. There will be one in Hermantown, Virginia and Tower.