The Minnesota DOT is testing how well this rural intersection conflict warning system (RICWS) warns drivers that other vehicles are approaching.

Nearly 70 percent of fatal vehicle collisions in Minnesota, as well as other states, occur on roads in rural communities, where higher speeds, varying terrain and inconsistent sightlines can put many drivers in danger. MnDOT is working toward making those roads safer. They are using the Canoga Traffic Sensing Solution from Global Traffic Technologies to warn at-risk drivers when cross-traffic is approaching.

The MnDOT initiative is part of the nationwide Towards Zero Deaths, a renowned platform for encouraging safer driving strategies for rural and state roads and instilling a new driving culture throughout the U.S. As part of the program, MnDOT is installing Rural Intersection Conflict Warning Systems (RICWS) at intersections with higher crash rates throughout the state.

MnDOT chose WSB & Associates as designers for the project. In turn, the firm selected Canoga as part of their traffic sensing strategy, citing the system’s reliability and easy installation as key factors in the decision.

“Across the state, there are dozens of intersections where trees, hills and winding roads obscure views for drivers,” said Janelle Borgen, ITS manager for WSB & Associates. “We needed a reliable system that could sense approaching vehicles when drivers couldn’t.”

Warning drivers of impending danger
Canoga includes non-invasive micro-loops and conduits installed under the pavement, spaced about 20 feet apart. The system measures the time it takes for a vehicle to pass between the sensors to determine the vehicle’s speed and calculate the time the vehicle will take to reach the intersection. A highly conspicuous traffic sign flashes bright yellow warning lights to alert drivers that a vehicle is approaching.

“With Canoga, we know exactly how long it takes for vehicles to reach the intersection based on the speeds they’re traveling,” said Borgen. “We’ve set the warning signals to give cross-traffic drivers about seven seconds of warning time. The signals flash so drivers on crossroads know that a vehicle is approaching and to stay clear of the intersection.”

“We’re trying to improve safety and reduce tragedy by implementing traffic sensing technology,” said Borgen. “So why would we jeopardize safety by closing roads for days while installing it? We can install Canoga™ quickly without lane closures for less money and with fewer risks.”

Canoga sensors are installed by boring horizontally under the pavement on the side of the road. As a result, the Canoga™ sensors are entirely protected from traffic and inclement weather, so ongoing maintenance is unnecessary.

Lives saved in a flash
MnDOT hired the University of Minnesota to evaluate performance where the Canoga-based RICWS was deployed. The University studied one intersection over 30 days, using its own proprietary test solution to determine whether Canoga accurately activates the warning signal for cross-traffic vehicles.

The results were impressive. The University of Minnesota found that over the course of the study the warning sign was activated with a 99.997% success rate.

“The accuracy numbers are fantastic, but we’re more concerned with another number and that’s the number of collisions at the site since Canoga was installed,” said Borgen. “We’re passionate about saving lives. And this project can have a giant impact on not only reducing fatalities, but in reducing crashes. That’s why we’re here, doing what we do and why we chose Canoga.”

While the study is ongoing, the MnDOT Office of Traffic Safety is anticipating a crash reduction rate of more than 30% and a decrease in serious injury by 70%. GTT and WSB have implemented Canoga- based RICWS at 20 rural intersections, with another 30 installations slated for the coming year.

Within the next couple of years, another 150 Minnesota intersections will be equipped with RICWS alert systems. GTT is confident that the state will continue to count on Canoga to keep its motorists safe.

Global Traffic Technologies, LLC.

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