SmartSensor Matrix’s high-definition corner radar is helping to make a dangerous intersection safer as part of a system that warns approaching drivers of slow or stopped vehicles ahead.

Project Team

The Montana Department of Transportation; Western Systems (Everett, WA); Stillwater Electric (Kalispell, MT); and Advanced Traffic Products (Everett, WA), an authorized Wavetronix channel partner.

Project Scope

US Highway 2 at Kalispell, Montana, features a dangerous, non-signalized intersection that has been the site of numerous crashes. The two-lane, high-speed highway intersects with Springcreek Road/Dern Road and has no turn lane. The goal of the project was to improve safety at the intersection without adding lanes or installing signals.

Problems and Challenges

Because there is no turn lane, when eastbound cars need to turn left onto Springcreek Road they are forced to stop in the lane of travel and hope that cars approaching from behind see them and stop in time. Unfortunately, too many drivers didn’t see the stopped vehicles until it was too late, resulting in numerous crashes. The posted speed limit on that stretch of US Highway 2 is 65 mph, and the road is heavily traveled by large semis. Finally, funding issues made a build-out of the intersection unfeasible.

Solution

Officials decided to install SmartSensor Matrix to monitor traffic at the intersection; and signs placed in advance of the intersection to warn oncoming drivers that slow or stopped vehicles are present in the roadway ahead. When Matrix detects a slow or stopped vehicle at the intersection, it activates advance warning beacons and LED-rimmed signs that warn drivers on both the mainline and the side streets. Matrix was selected for a number of reasons. First, the sensor is easy to install and configure; loops were considered for detection, but are much more difficult to install and require lane closures. Second, Matrix has been used successfully at other intersections in Montana, so officials were comfortable with the sensor’s performance. Finally, the sensors were installed at a fraction of the cost the state would have incurred for a lengthy and expensive road-widening project.

Benefits

SmartSensor Matrix is non-intrusive, so the installation was completed without disrupting traffic flow. Montana DOT saved money by avoiding the need for an expensive build-out of the road. Most importantly, the system is giving drivers important information about the road ahead, and it is hoped that this will reduce accidents and improve overall safety at this intersection.

For more information on SmartSensor Advance, click here.