As you drive down one of Ohio's many highways, you may notice barriers and guardrails on the side of the road. These devices are intended to keep motorists safe in the event of a crash but how well do guardrails really work?
Ten years ago, the Ohio Department of Transportation changed the type of barriers they used on highways in the state. There are currently three different types of rails that are commonly used on Ohio roads: cable barriers, standard guardrails and concrete barriers.
The Ohio DOT said they used a lot of research to help determine which type of barrier or guardrail should be used on a given highway or section of the road. Before the state installed these barriers, the Ohio DOT reported 17 cross medium fatalities between Cincinnati and Dayton. In 2003, the state installed cable barriers in that area and they have not had a single fatal cross medium crash.
While the state still does use concrete barriers on some of their roads, Ohio has started to replace concrete barriers with cable barriers because they are less expensive and easier to maintain. The state also found that cable barriers were just as effective and safe as concrete barriers.
Despite the cable barriers being safe and preventing fatal car accidents, there has been one issue with installing more cable barriers in Ohio. The state has reported an increase in property damage to vehicles when they hit the cable barriers, even if their vehicle never would have crossed the medium.
Even with the increase in minor damage to these vehicles, the state DOT said that the cable barriers and other barriers used in the state help save lives in the event of a crash by preventing head-on collisions on Ohio highways.
Source: WDTN, "Are highway guardrails working?" Natalie Tendall, July 8, 2013