The OPP posted this photo on their Twitter account showing the results of an impact by a tanker truck into a barrier on Hwy 410. The OPP did not explain why the impacted barrier is resting in the live lane of the Highway. And the public does not understand the significance of this.

When a clearly unexplainable happening is visible in an OPP photo, and the OPP do not provide an explanation, the public also has no idea of its relevance – and that is a genuine problem.

Medians contain a variety of barriers and energy attenuation devices to control the deceleration of vehicles that exit the highway from a loss-of-control scenario, an impact, or some other cause. The particular system shown in the above photo is typically set up in front of some dangerous and immovable object. The system is a set of barrels positioned in such a way that impact to the system will cause a vehicle to dissipate its kinetic energy in a controlled manner. Or said differently, the striking vehicle is slowed down gradually over time and distance. Typically the barrels are filled with some substance, like sand, at different levels of fillage. The barrels closest to the initial impact contain hardly any sand at all so they are very light and are easily damaged and displaced. But moving further to the back the barrels are filled with progressively more sand. So the barrel that sustains the initial impact, being almost empty, is destroyed and tossed aside, while causing very little change in the impacting vehicle’s speed. But as the vehicle encounters more barrels, which contain more and more sand, the slowing of the vehicle increases and the damage and deflection of the barrels is lessened. This is the way that the vehicle’s speed is reduced in a controlled manner. But look at the above photo, is there something wrong?

The struck barrel system is lying on a live lane Highway 410. Clearly that is not what it is supposed to look like after an impact. It is not supposed to slide, like an integrated unit, out into a travel lane. And the barrels are supposed to show evidence of their destruction because this is what they are designed to do. There are always unique circumstances that appear in photos and, if the OPP do what they are supposed to do, like clarify any misunderstandings, they should not post photos showing bazaar occurrences without an explanation because that just causes confusion.

So did the barrels actually swing out into the live lane of Highway 410 without performing as they should have? Why would the OPP show this photo and then not comment about the usual result? Is it because they themselves do not understand how these systems are supposed to function? That prospect is frightening.