Courtesy of Colorado Department of Transportation.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is trying something new to solve dangerous problems facing rural roads.

CDOT is launching a series of challenges to collect practical solutions to three hazardous factors on rural roads: sharp turns, wildlife collisions and shoulders without emergency barriers.

Rural roads carry less than half the traffic in the U.S. yet account for more than half of vehicular fatalities, said CDOT spokeswoman Amy Ford.

“People die on our rural roads,” Ford said. “We know that, right now, technology is moving forward rapidly and the reality is, a lot of that is focused in our urban spaces.”

The RoadX Rural Road Safety Challenge is a collaboration between CDOT and Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office, funded by the department’s technological innovation wing.

The first challenge aims to decrease wildlife collisions. Such collisions can be deadly.

For example, along a nine-mile stretch of Highway 550 in western Colorado, 66 percent of vehicular deaths over the last five years have involved wildlife, according to CDOT.

Vehicle-wildlife collisions can also be costly. CDOT said the insurance industry pays out almost $1.8 billion a year in claims for wildlife collisions nationwide.

“What we wanted to do with the RoadX Challenge is challenge innovators, technologists and others to think about the rest of our state and how we actually harness technology to help protect and save lives,” Ford said.

The contests are open to individuals or teams over age 18 and can be submitted in English or Spanish. Proposals for the first challenge are due January 31, 2019, and can be submitted online at RoadXChallenge.com.

Deadlines for the next two challenges will be announced in 2019.