The Minnesota Department of Transportation has been recognized for its use of a safer intersection for high-speed divided highways.

MnDOT was honored with a 2023 National Roadway Safety Award for its implementation of "J-turn intersections" at more than 80 intersections throughout the state. Most of these newly designed intersections have been built on divided rural expressways.

First used in Wilmar in 2010, this intersection design has been a great success, since its construction the intersection in Wilmar hasn't had any fatal or serious injury crashes. A study was completed in 2021 and it found that J-turn intersections had a 69 percent reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes, compared with before the J-turns were constructed.

J-turns are used on roads that typically have too little traffic to meet the federal guidelines for using a traffic light, they reduce the number of locations where vehicles may merge or cross paths with each other, therefore reducing the likelihood of a "T-bone" crash, which is one of the deadliest types of collisions.

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Derek Leuer, MnDOT's state traffic safety engineer says the the number of collisions at these intersections remains steady, but the number of serious or fatal crashes has been reduced significantly, fatalities are down 70% and crashes with injuries are down 42%. Leuer says "Door panels and bumpers can be replaced, people cannot."

J-turn intersections are a quick and inexpensive option for problem intersections, and their use around the state could be having a real impact on the number of fatalities on Minnesota roads, during the first half of 2023, 163 people died, which is down 11.7% from the same time in 2022.

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Gallery Credit: Nick Cooper

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