- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Officials with the state Department of Highway and Transportation are trying to determine why an Interstate cable barrier didn’t prevent a cross-median crash in central Arkansas.

The crash occurred Sept. 13 on Interstate 530 just north of Dixon Road in Little Rock. The barrier did “corral” the vehicle involved in the crash like it’s supposed to, but the cables stretched farther than they should have, Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department spokesman Danny Straessle told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1ja24n0 ).

Agency officials believe the crash on Sept. 13 was the first incident in which a cable barrier didn’t work as designed. The barrier had recently been installed, and the cables had been tightened on Aug. 4 and Sept. 1, according to Straessle.

“This is an unusual result,” he said. The barriers “were installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications,” he said. “We are in the process of investigating what happened.”

The agency is still waiting to receive an incident report from the Arkansas State Police, and the contractor is contacting the manufacturer to review the specifications, Straessle said.

“All accidents are different,” he said. “We want to look at the angle the vehicle struck the cables. Most do strike it at a 90-degree angle.”

Cable barriers have been installed by the agency on nearly 700 miles of road in Arkansas in an effort to prevent head-on and often fatal crashes. The agency’s studies have shown that the cable barriers, which are less expensive than concrete barriers and guardrails, are effective in preventing fatalities.

More than 60 percent of all traffic fatalities involve a vehicle leaving the roadway, according to transportation records. Of those incidents, about of quarter involved crossing a median or center line.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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