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Cable barrier fails to prevent head on crash near Tulsa

Four cables standing 32 inches tall are a common sight in Oklahoma highway medians. These simple cables almost always prevent cross over accidents. They are also cheaper than concrete barriers, so that state has installed 600 miles of the cable barriers and plans to put in another 100 miles.

A recent highway crash near Tulsa has the Oklahoma Department of Transportation double-checking the design and location of a cable barrier.

A southbound minivan went over the cable barrier and then crashed into an oncoming truck. The driver of the minivan suffered critical injuries after being trapped in her vehicle. The truck driver also sustained injuries. The accident caused a lengthy back up on busy Tulsa Highway 75.

Tulsa police initially believed that speed might have been a factor in causing the accident. However, the cable barriers usually stop cross over accidents even at higher speeds. Installation guidelines do caution that placement of the barriers is important.

ODOT will inspect the area where the accident occurred, but said that it stands by its installation of the cable barrier in the low spot of the median. The state agency said it was too early to speculate about possible changes.

Any needed changes could also affect installation of another 22 miles of cable currently underway further north on Highway 75 near the Tulsa and Washington county line.

Following a serious accident with injuries, an investigation often can determine the cause of the crash. Remedies might be available if negligence was involved. And in some cases there could be multiple liable parties, for instance when the actions of a distracted driver combine with a defect in the construction of a road.

Source:, “ODOT To Double Check Barrier Placement After Highway Collision,” Emory Bryan, August 1, 2014.


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