Objective: This article aims to evaluate the safety performance of cable median barriers on freeways in Florida.
Method: The safety performance evaluation was based on the percentages of barrier and median crossovers by vehicle type, crash severity, and cable median barrier type (Trinity Cable Safety System [CASS] and Gibraltar system). Twenty-three locations with cable median barriers totaling about 101 miles were identified. Police reports of 6,524 crashes from years 2005-2010 at these locations were reviewed to verify and obtain detailed crash information. A total of 549 crashes were determined to be barrier related (i.e., crashes involving vehicles hitting the cable median barrier) and were reviewed in further detail to identify crossover crashes and the manner in which the vehicles crossed the barriers; that is, by either overriding, underriding, or penetrating the barriers.
Results: Overall, 2.6% of vehicles that hit the cable median barrier crossed the median and traversed into the opposite travel lane. Overall, 98.1% of cars and 95.5% of light trucks that hit the barrier were prevented from crossing the median. In other words, 1.9% of cars and 4.5% of light trucks that hit the barrier had crossed the median and encroached on the opposite travel lanes. There is no significant difference in the performance of cable median barrier for cars versus light trucks in terms of crossover crashes. In terms of severity, overrides were more severe compared to underrides and penetrations. The statistics showed that the CASS and Gibraltar systems performed similarly in terms of crossover crashes. However, the Gibraltar system experienced a higher proportion of penetrations compared to the CASS system. The CASS system resulted in a slightly higher percentage of moderate and minor injury crashes compared to the Gibraltar system.
Conclusions: Cable median barriers are successful in preventing median crossover crashes; 97.4% of the cable median barrier crashes were prevented from crossing over the median. Of all of the vehicles that hit the barrier, 83.6% were either redirected or contained by the cable barrier system. Barrier crossover crashes were found to be more severe compared to barrier noncrossover crashes. In addition, overrides were found to be more severe compared to underrides and penetrations.
Keywords: Gibraltar System; Trinity Cable Safety System (CASS); barrier crossover; cable median barrier; median crossover; safety performance evaluation.