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Cable median barriers: A cost-effective means to save lives

 

From Michigan Department of Transportation

CAR-Fatal-crashes-TZD-bannerMedian-crossover crashes are among the most hazardous events that can occur on freeways, often leading to serious injury or death. In recent years, high-tension cable median barriers have emerged as a cost-effective alternative to conventional barriers in preventing such crashes. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) began installing them on state freeways in 2008. A recently completed research project confirmed that cable median barriers are effective at reducing crossover crashes and improving freeway safety in Michigan, produced guidelines to help identify the best locations to install them, and developed content for public outreach materials explaining their benefit.

After the barriers were installed, crossover crash rates on those highway segments fell by 87 percent, and the barriers successfully contained 97 percent of the vehicles that hit them. Cable barriers have improved overall safety at the locations where they have been installed. The most serious crash types—fatal and severe injury crashes—decreased by 33 percent after cable median barriers were installed, according to rigorous statistical analysis. Since their installation, cable barriers are estimated to have saved 20 lives and prevented over 100 serious injuries in Michigan.

The research study confirms that cable median barriers are a cost-effective treatment for reducing crossover crashes, fatalities and serious injuries in Michigan. The guidelines developed will give MDOT a framework for determining where cable barriers are likely to have the greatest positive impact and return on investment based on crash data and site characteristics specific to Michigan. MDOT is reviewing these recommendations for possible incorporation into future updates to the department’s median treatment design guidelines.

To help educate drivers about the safety benefits of cable median barriers, the researchers also developed content for public outreach messaging, including an update to MDOT’s 2011 brochure on cable median barriers. For a copy f the new brochure go to http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdot/MDOT_GuardrailSystemBrochure_300385_7.pdf

For more information on the research go to the MDOT Research Spotlight at: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdot/RC1612_Spotlight_479486_7.pdf

The statewide goal is to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all roadways from 889 and 5,706 respectively in 2011, to 750 and 4,800 in 2016. The mission is Toward Zero Deaths on Michigan Roadways. Visit www.michigan.gov/zerodeaths for more informaiton.

 

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