Brown County highway commissioner highlights rumble strip use

BROWN COUNTY, Wis (WBAY) -- On Wednesday, County Leaders and neighbors learned how Brown County is using rumble strips to prevent crashes at rural intersections.

Looking at rumble strip use in Brown County.

It's an issue Target 2 has investigated for months.

Brown County Highway Commissioner Paul Fontecchio gave a presentation Wednesday with statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, which states center-line rumble strips reduce fatal and head-on crashes by 44 percent.

Stop-condition rumble strips reduce fatal and serious injury crashes by 39 percent.

Fontecchio showed images from eight crashes from the past three years, seven of them fatal, at county intersections where rumble strips were not installed.

One of them involved a county highway department employee’s family.

"The only thing that stopped this from becoming a fatal accident is she ended up luckily hitting the rear drive axle, tearing it off the semi and the landing gear bringing her to stop before sliding all the way under,” said employee Nick Goral.

His wife and two young children were struck by a semi that failed stop at the stop sign. It happened at the intersection of county highways JJ and QQ in August of 2018.

“The rumble strips are hopefully a way we can reduce these incapacitating injury and fatal injury, fatal accidents by up to 40 percent,” said Fontecchio.

The Brown County Sheriff's Office says 20 percent of crashes in the county between January 2015 and June 2018 were caused by distracted driving

One homeowner says rumble strips are not the only answer.

“Several weeks ago we had another accident that occurred just past our home, the driver blew past that intersection which had rumble strips,” said Bonnie Lee.

She lives in the Town of Morrison at the intersection of CTH Z and CTH G where rumble strips were installed this summer.

She says the noise has impacted her life and has been looking for alternatives to the rumble strips.

“Lit stop signs, meaning LED lit lights, are shown to be 50 percent effective in intersections,” Lee said. “We have asked for four-way stop, we have asked for reflectors, we have asked for painted lines. We’ve asked for a number of other options including large stop signs and additionally doubled stop signs."

A 2004 study on the effects of LEDs embedding stop signs done by the Texas Transportation Institute showed a 29 percent reduction in the number of vehicles not fully stopping and a 52 percent reduction in the number of vehicles moving through the intersection without significantly slowing down.

Fontecchio says this is a suggestion that has been brought up but is not recommended by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

“I know there's a concern of noise, but then I have to weigh that against the overall public safety. To me, there's no choice,” Fontecchio said.

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