What Are Median Barriers?
Median barriers are installed on divided two-way highways. They are longitudinal barriers that separate traffic traveling in both directions. These median barriers are set in place to prevent the crossing of lanes onto oncoming traffic suddenly after a car accident.
Different Types Of Median Barriers
Median barriers are generally of three kinds:
- Rigid Barriers – These concrete barriers are the most effective type. These are the type of barriers we would see on interstate 5 in California or commonly seen in highways with a high volume of people and semi-trucks.
The limitation of this kind of barrier is that if a crash occurs they absorb minimum energy which leads to accidents of higher severity.
- Semi-Rigid Barriers – These are guide rails or guard rails that are constructed at segments of railing that connect. They are designed to absorb energy when a crash occurs and to deflect or move the vehicle on impact.
- Cable Barriers – These median barriers are made up of numerous steel cables which are connected by a series of posts. Like the other medians, their purpose is to also absorb the impact of a car collision.
The disadvantage of this kind of barriers is that they are a little weaker and can be breached more easily than the former ones.
Injuries Caused Due To Median Cross-Over Accidents
Official records show that head-on collisions caused due to median cross-over at high speeds are more serious than other highway crashes.
Crossover accidents also involve side impact or frontal crashes. The amount of damage they cause to the vehicle is extensive. Many times the vehicle gets crushed due to the impacts at highway speeds. This is extremely dangerous for the driver, the passengers and the other drivers on the road.
In some cases, the initial impact is so strong that passengers not using seatbelts can be propelled forward outside of the vehicle. Injuries caused due to ejection can be disastrous and worst of all, fatal. The individuals may sustain head or spinal injuries. Even if the passengers use their safety belts they may still get injured seriously because of the head-on collision.
Face-on collisions between two high-speed vehicles result in the most severe accidents. Compared to other types of collisions, head-on collisions lead to more fatalities and severe injuries. More than 38,000 people died in motor crashes in 2020. Of these, many were crossover accidents.
When a vehicle changes its lane (willingly or accidentally) on a highway and hits an oncoming vehicle, it’s called a crossover accident. Highways generally have barriers that separate the lanes. Such barriers are called median barriers, and they are the most effective way of preventing crossover accidents.
However, not all highways have median barriers. Rural highways often don’t have median barriers because of low average daily traffic (ADT). According to AASHTO’s Roadside Design Guide, median barriers are mandatory only when the ADT is more than 20,000.
Installing median barriers over a long stretch of roads is a time and resource-intensive project. But at the same time, it’s the best possible way of reducing the number of crossover accidents. The Federal Highway Administration has published a report on how median barriers reduce crossover accidents.
Crossover accident injuries
Crossover accident injuries are more severe than typical accident injuries. This is mainly due to the nature of the impact. A head-on collision puts the brain, eyes, and other vital organs at risk. When the impact is from either side, the legs and hands absorb a lot of damage, but many vital organs are relatively protected.
A head-on collision between a heavy and a light vehicle is extremely dangerous for the lighter vehicle. It’s difficult to control a heavy vehicle moving forward at 50+ miles per hour, and it can run over a lighter vehicle. It results in a high momentum impact with high chances of fatality.
Airbags, seatbelts, and other safety features don’t offer full protection against crossover accidents. Moreover, many cars don’t have cutting-edge safety features that can sustain an impact of such a high magnitude. These factors combine to make crossover accidents the most dangerous road accident.
Thousands of people die every year from crossover accidents. Vigilance and awareness are the only two ways to prevent crossover accidents, apart from median barriers. Drivers must be more cautious when driving on a highway with no median barriers. Accidents are unpredictable and being aware is the most we can do in our individual capacities.
The role of median barriers in reducing accidents
Median barriers are the most effective preventive measure against crossover accidents. According to the report of the Federal Highway Administration on crossover accidents, ”Median barriers significantly reduce the number of cross-median crashes”. From a road safety perspective, installing median barriers is the most logical step to preventing crossover accidents.
Studies have proven that median barriers are effective. However, there are challenges to installing them on highways as well. For example, median barriers take up a large chunk of road space. Installing them on narrow highways can slow down traffic, especially heavy vehicles.
The present approach of installing median barriers takes into account multiple factors like road width, average daily traffic, and accident hotspots. Median barriers are often installed only in accident-prone stretches. These are typically sharp curves or narrow roads where two cars are more likely to collide head-on.
It costs around $445,000 to install a single continuous median barrier. Since this figure is taken from a 2002 study, the present cost of installing median barriers would be much higher. However, the lack of funds is not the biggest hindrance to installing median barriers. Other factors like road width and space restriction play a greater role.
Types of median barriers
There are three main types of median barriers, and their efficacy varies. Strong barriers are more effective in preventing crossover accidents. Weak barriers are still better than no barriers. Some median barriers also require more frequent maintenance, which adds to the overall cost of installing such barriers.
Let’s find out more about the three types of median barriers:
Cable barriers are the weakest median barriers, but they are also more flexible than other types of barriers. Due to their flexibility, cable barriers can absorb the impact of the crash and redirect the vehicle. But cable barriers require frequent maintenance since any impactful crash can break or damage them.
Metal-beam guardrails are stronger than cable barriers but don’t have the same flexibility. These beams are placed on wooden and steel posts and are designed to absorb the impact of car crashes. Metal-beam guardrails are ideal for narrow roads since they don’t deflect crashed cars as much as cable barriers.
Concrete barriers provide almost zero deflection and absorb the full impact of a car crash. These barriers don’t need maintenance after minor impacts but may require repositioning. Concrete barriers are also more expensive than metal beams and cable barriers.
Car accident attorneys for crossover accidents
Car accident attorneys specialize in helping accident victims get their due compensation. If a road accident is caused due to the negligence of a driver, the other affected vehicles can file personal injury claims and get compensation from the perpetrator.
Car accident lawyers help their clients get compensation for medical bills, permanent disabilities, vehicle repairs, loss of wage hours, etc. If you are a victim of a car accident, you should get in touch with a car accident lawyer at the earliest. The earlier you start legal proceedings, the higher the chances of you getting compensation.
Most drivers are not aware of their personal injury rights. The emotional and physical stress of an accident also makes it difficult to seek legal help at the earliest. A specialized car accident lawyer will tell you about your personal injury rights in the context of your accident.
Motor vehicle accident laws vary based on the nature of the accident. But in almost all cases, victims of an accident are entitled to compensation if the accident did not involve their fault.If you want to get your legal rights and compensation after an accident, getting in touch with an experienced car accident attorney is the best move. Call the personal injury lawyers Krasney Law 24/7 at (909) 500-4312 for a free consultation.