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Michigan DOT say guardrails could have saved life in fatal crash

The Michigan Department of Transportation is scheduled to install cable guardrails along sections of Interstate 94 in November. Unfortunately this was not soon enough to save the life of one driver and avoid serious injury to another when a car went out of control across the median and into the oncoming lane of traffic.

The fatal accident occurred last Sunday just before 10:00 pm. The cable guardrails are designed to prevent exactly this type of accident by stopping cars before they enter the oncoming lanes. A spokesman for the Michigan DOT says that there is a 99% certainty that the guardrails would have saved a life and avoided serious injury to the other driver had they already been in place.

The Michigan DOT began a study this summer to determine the effectiveness of the cable guardrail barriers in decreasing the number of serious injuries and deaths. As many other states have already installed the guardrails, the DOT is also reviewing crash data from those states.

Not everyone is convinced that the guardrails are always a good idea. A law enforcement officer from the Van Buren County Sheriff's department indicated a cable guardrail contributed to a fatal crash earlier this year. In that crash, the car bounced off the guardrail back into the lanes of traffic and was subsequently struck by another car.

It is encouraging that the state DOT is taking steps to examine crash mitigation methods on Michigan highways. While a properly engineered highway with appropriate safety features may not stop all serious injuries resulting from car crashes, a poorly designed highway can certainly contribute to the likelihood of a serious accident.

Source: The Jackson Citizen Patriot, "Planned cable guardrails might have prevented Sunday's fatal crash on I-94 near Albion," Aaron Aupperlee, Sept. 12, 2011

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