Highway median cross over collisions can be deadly. Therefore it is good news that a transport truck was kept within the median of Highway 401 rather than crossing into opposing lanes near Kenesserie Road on Saturday, August 18th, 2018. But the issue is more complicated than that.
The OPP reported that at about 0030 hours on Saturday an eastbound pick-up truck was hauling an engine on a flatbed trailer when its driver lost control due to the wet road conditions. The pick-up struck the newly installed high tension median barrier causing the engine to become dislodged and it flew into the opposing, westbound lanes of the highway. A westbound transport truck struck the engine and went out of control, driving into the median where it struck the cable barrier preventing the truck from travelling into the opposing eastbound lanes. This was hailed by the OPP as a success story in that there were no injuries and therefore the median barrier successfully prevented a deadly median barrier cross-over collision. Well, yes, it prevented the vehicles from crossing the median, but the celebration fails to recognize the important fact that the engine was not prevented from crossing the median, and that is a problem.
There was no description of the engine involved but it could easily have weighed a 1000 pounds. Even much less massive objects flying into opposing lanes can be deadly. What if the engine had struck a smaller vehicle such as a car or a light duty truck? Would the consequences have been just a favourable? Clearly not.
While there appear to have been some benefits to the presence of the newly-installed cable barrier, this incident does not prove that it was the right choice for installation over the more costly concrete barrier. What is needed is more information and experience from further incidents before any conclusions can be drawn. The problem is that the details of what transpires during these incidents are not provided for the public to evaluate. Nor is it likely that any such details will ever be provided. And that is another problem.