Deadly Crash Prompts Transportation Department to Take Action
The Oklahoma Department of Transportation approved installation of cable barriers along the stretch of I-35 where four members of the North Central Texas College girl’s softball team were killed last September. A seven mile long cable will separate the north and southbound lanes of Interstate 35, stretching from mile marker 44 at Arbuckle Mountains to just south of Turner Falls.
The decision was made in response to the fatal head-on collision between a tractor-trailer and the van that was transporting the women back to the NCTC campus after a game. Four women were killed and 12 others were seriously injured in the accident. The truck driver responsible for the horrific accident only suffered minor injuries.
The deadly tractor-trailer accident occurred when the distracted truck driver crossed the 92-foot wide center median from the northbound lane into the southbound lane and hit the van head on. The force of the impact sheared the side of the van and knocked it onto its side. The 18-wheeler came to rest about 300 feet off the highway.
The truck driver has been charged with four counts of first-degree manslaughter in late June. A marijuana pipe and prescription medications were reportedly discovered in his semi cab during the accident investigation.
Cable Barriers Prevent Head-On Collisions
Cable barriers are an effective means of preventing head-on collisions and reducing injuries should an accident occur.
In an interview with The Daily Oklahoman, a DOT official explained that, until the tragic NCTC crash, authorities believed the 92-foot depressed earthen median was adequate to stop vehicles from crossing into the lanes of opposite travelling traffic. According to the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report, the road curved at the area of the crash, but the distracted driver continued to travel in a straight trajectory into the oncoming Southbound lane. Cable barriers may have deflected the truck’s direction back into the northbound lane or at least slowed the speed of the truck to reduce the force of impact.
How Cable Barriers Work
A cable barrier is constructed by stringing steel wire ropes on posts placed along the centerline. The wire is designed to capture or redirect a vehicle that has veered out of its lane to prevent it from entering the lane of traffic travelling in the opposite direction. The posts are designed to absorb the force of impact and reduce injuries to the occupants of the errant vehicle.
The Federal Highway Administration reports that states that have installed cable barriers estimate a decrease of 90 percent or more in cross-median crash related deaths. In addition to being an effective deterrent to head-on collisions, cable barriers are also relatively inexpensive and cheaper than other types of barriers, such as concrete or metal beam barriers. Cable barriers are a smart means of preventing head-on collisions.