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News Release

January 18, 2010
 

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Minnesota Department of Transportation
Rochester D6
2900 48th Street
Rochester MN
55901

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Electronic signs at Highway 52/County Road 9 go live on Jan. 20

 

 

ROCHESTER, Minn. —– Motorists will see the electronic signs activated at the Highway 52 and Goodhue County Road 9 intersection beginning Wednesday, Jan. 20, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.



Known as CICAS-SSA (Cooperative Intersection Collision Avoidance Systems – Stop Sign Assist), the signs are part of a long-term research project to improve safety at rural “thru-stop” intersections. A thru-stop intersection is where traffic on one roadway is required to stop at an intersection, while traffic on the other roadway can travel through the intersection without stopping. This is the case for most of Highway 52 from Rochester to the Twin Cities. 



 “Crashes at rural thru-stop intersections arise primarily from a driver, after stopping, attempting to either cross or enter the mainline traffic stream after failing to recognize an unsafe gap condition,” said Jon Jackels, MnDOT intelligent transportation program engineer. “The driver proceeds into the approaching traffic, and is hit by a vehicle traveling at high speed. Unfortunately, because of the high speeds involved, these crashes often produce serious injuries or fatalities.”



In 2008, 93 out of 420 (22 percent) fatal crashes in Minnesota were rural intersection-related. In the United States during 2007, 8,202 of 37,248 (also 22 percent) of fatal crashes were intersection-related.



A crash analysis of the Highway 52/Goodhue County Road 9 intersection shows a 10-year crash history of 65 crashes, with seven involving fatalities. Of these, 62 percent (40) were right-angle crashes, meaning the cross traffic was broadsided. Seventy-five percent of these crashes involved northbound (Highway 52) and eastbound (County Road 9) vehicles.



The CICAS-SSA system is designed to help drivers recognize and properly respond to unsafe gap conditions in cross traffic. It uses “gap sensing” technology involving a computer processor and algorithms that route signals to control four electronic, changeable signs. The CICAS-SSA system does not tell a driver when to cross traffic; rather, it is designed to help a driver recognize unsafe gaps and better judge when to cross traffic.



The study began in June 2006. Preliminary results have indicated that the electronic signs support driver decision-making.



Evaluation of the project will continue throughout the next three years, with the hope that the technology in place will provide benefits to rural intersections nationwide, Jackels said.



The project is a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Transportation, U.S. Dept. of Transportation, University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies and the Intelligent Transportation Systems Institute.



“This partnership is another effort to assist the state in making the goal of fewer than 400 traffic-related deaths in 2010, which is our next incremental goal as part of the Toward Zero Deaths program,” said Sue Groth, state traffic engineer.



Safety officials say Minnesota’s cornerstone traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths, has been a key to reducing deaths and injuries. TZD is a multidisciplinary initiative led by the state departments of Public Safety, Transportation and Health, with partners from the law enforcement, emergency medical services, health education and engineering professions.



Improving the design and operation of highway intersections is one of five critical emphasis areas in Minnesota’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan.



For further information about the project, go to http://www.dot.state.mn.us/d6/newsrels/10/CICAS_fac_sheet.pdf and http://www.dot.state.mn.us/d6/newsrels/10/CiCAS_sign_location_graphic_2010.pdf

 

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