Missing Barriers Blamed for West Virginia Accident

May 2013

On May 2, 2013, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported that a car crossed the median on Interstate 77 and hit a Fed Ex semi head on. As a result of the accident, a passenger in the car was airlifted to a hospital in Charleston and the drivers of the Honda Civic and the Fed Ex semi truck were transported to a local hospital.

Unfortunately, the Fed Ex semi truck involved in the accident caught fire, which could have been dangerous because of the hazardous chemicals it was carrying. As a 59 News update later reported, the hazardous chemicals in the truck were lithium and disodium trioxalate. The chemicals were fortunately only dangerous if they came into contact with water, which did not occur in this particular case.

Our West Virginia injury attorneys know that this fiery crash could have led to serious problems involving a chemical spill. While it is lucky that the crash didn’t have this outcome, people were still hurt and the accident should have been prevented. As the Daily Telegram suggests, something as simple as traffic barriers could potentially have prevented this accident from happening.

Traffic Barriers Prevent Accidents

Channel 59 posed the question regarding whether a barrier on the median would have stopped the Honda from crossing into oncoming traffic. A spokesman for the West Virginia Department of Transportation told 59 News that barriers are put up on stretches of highways that see the most accidents, particularly crossover accidents. That particular section of Interstate 77 had not been deemed dangerous enough for a barrier.

The spokesperson also also explained that there are two types of barriers. A cable barrier is best at keeping a car from crossing over and a concrete barrier would make the car bounce off after contact. In this case, either type of barrier may have minimized both the risks of a crash.

Traffic Accidents Due to Road Design

There are many things that can cause accidents, and the way a road is designed is often a factor in a crash. When roadways are not properly built or maintained, driver safety can be affected not just by missing guardrails or barriers but also by many other issues as well. Some contributing factors, for example, include:

  • Poor placement of traffic signals
  • Limited visibility
  • Lack of proper drainage that leads to puddles or ice
  • Pinch points
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Visibility of road markings
  • Problems with road surfaces, such as potholes
  • Missing, poorly placed or damaged barriers
  • Lack of guardrails along embankments or dangerous curves
  • Insufficient barriers along medians

Barriers that are placed on medians reduce the number of crossover accidents by capturing or redirecting cars that would otherwise run into oncoming traffic. Cable barriers, made of steel wire ropes, are very effective at preventing cars from crossing the median. They are also cost effective and are predominantly used on divided highways. Concrete barriers also minimize damage to the vehicle by redirecting the car.

Unfortunately, sometimes a road is lacking barriers when it would clearly make sense for barriers to be present. While it is more difficult to bring litigation against a state government, knowing all of the factors and contributing causes of a collision makes for the best starting point.

If you’ve been in an auto accident in Ohio, Pennsylvania or West Virginia, contact the personal injury attorneys at Recht Law Office. Call us today at 1-800-HURTLINE.

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