ODOT Studies Cable Median Barriers To Reduce Crashes

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Ohio’s Department of Transportation says it will install more cable median barriers in an effort to reduce the number of what are called crossover crashes. One of those crashes claimed four lives near Springfield. The deaths occurred when a tractor trailer truck crossed the median on Interstate 70 and struck a small passenger bus.

Experts say that crossover crashes are rare but often tragic because two vehicles collide head-on at high rates of speed. Ohio’s Department of Transportation is wrapping up a pilot program that has studied the effectiveness of cable median barriers to prevent such accidents. ODOT spokesman Scott Varner says cable barriers react differently than concrete dividers when they’re struck by vehicles.

“What our studies have shown is that when a car hits a cable barrier the cable almost catches the vehicle [and] prevents it from – if you were to hit a concrete barrier – bouncing back,” Varner says.

Ohio currently has about 160 miles of cable median barriers in place. More will be added in the next year or two says Varner. But he says cable dividers might not be as effective at preventing the type of accident that occurred near Springfield when a tractor trailer truck crossed the median into oncoming traffic.

“The cable barriers are mostly designed to prevent cars and pickup trucks from crossing the barrier,” Varner says. “Any kind of barrier will help slow down a vehicle. And obviously the bigger the vehicle the much more difficult it is to slow down.”

Varner says ODOT will carefully analyze sections of Ohio roadways that are prone to accidents and determine if cable median barriers should be installed.

“Where it is in place [the cable barrier] we think it does do an incredible job of preventing these crossover crashes,” Varner says.