Cable Barrier Helps In I-96 Accident

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A rollover on I-96 kept the highway closed for most of the day. The truck driver and another driver involved in the crash were taken to the hospital with minor injuries, but it could have been a lot worse.

These thin metal cables might not look like much next to highway traffic.

"He was a tractor trailer with approximately 10,500 gallons of product," said Sergeant Jeff Weiss with the Ingham County Sheriff's Office.

But when it came to holding back a tanker truck Monday morning, they got the job done.

"From around the state the statistics do show that they're effective in keeping cars when they leave the roadway not going into oncoming traffic," Weiss added.

MDOT started installing cable guardrails five years ago, after studies found cross-median accidents are three times more deadly than other highway crashes.

"They're tension driven so they are able to absorb the force of the impact," explained Kari Arend a spokeswoman for MDOT.

Just two weeks ago they prevented a semi-truck that lost control on US 23 from crossing onto the other side of the highway.

"Those are what these barriers are designed to prevent, those potential secondary accidents which could result in loss of life or even greater injury," Arend said.

MDOT expects these cable barriers to reduce cross-median accidents by 90 percent. In today's crash these barriers helped keep the truck on the eastbound side of the highway, where it ultimately flipped over.

"It was a serious accident but I definitely think it prevented an even greater accident out there," Arend added.

While the barrier potentially saved a number of lives, Monday's accident did cause a major inconvenience to drivers, spilling liquid asphalt and shutting down the highway for hours.

"A hole was ripped in one of the tanks of the truck, presumably from one of the posts on the barrier," Weiss said.

That's a small cost when it comes to preventing accidents.

MDOT has installed nearly 300 miles of cable guardrails. A study found the barriers save 13 lives and prevent 51 life-threatening injuries every year.

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