The National Safety Council estimates that 32 percent of all rural crashes occur at intersections. Although the average crash occurring at an intersection is not as severe as one occurring on the open road, 16 percent of all fatalities on rural highways are intersection related.
Minnesota is partnered with California, Virginia, and the FHWA in a pooled fund consortium (the Infrastructure Consortium) dedicated to improving intersection safety. Each member of the consortium is tasked with addressing an aspect of intersection safety; the Minnesota team's objective is to develop a better understanding of the causes of crashes at rural intersections and then develop a toolbox of effective strategies to mitigate the high crash rate.
Rural Intersection Decision Support (IDS) focuses on enhancing the driver's ability to successfully negotiate rural intersections. The system uses sensing and communication technology to determine the safe gaps and then communicate this information to the driver so that he or she can make an informed decision about crossing the intersection or entering a major road traffic stream. The goal of the research is to reduce crashes and fatalities at such intersections without having to introduce traffic signals, which on high-speed rural roads often lead to an increase in rear-end crashes.