A rural expressway is defined as a multilane, divided highway with partial access control on which vehicles typically travel at speeds in excess of 50 miles per hour. There are more than 400 miles of such highways in South Carolina, and they’re popular for transporting goods throughout the state as well as for routine commuter travel. They’re also the scene of many fatal accidents, however, caused when a driver on one side of the dividing median crosses over into oncoming traffic on the other side. Known as “crossover” or “cross-median” accidents, these collisions are among the most severe because of the speeds of the vehicles at the time of impact as well as the fact that semi trucks are sharing the road with much smaller and lighter vehicles.
What Causes Vehicles to Cross the Median?
Operator error is the primary reason vehicles leave their lane of traffic and plow into oncoming traffic. And in this day and age, driver distraction plays a leading role. It only takes a few seconds of texting, adjusting radio controls, or consulting a GPS display to steer onto the shoulder, lose control and be unable to stop before causing a tragic accident.
Occasionally a medical problem causes a driver to lose consciousness or coordination, leaving the speeding vehicle to go where it will, including across the median into traffic coming from the opposite direction.
Preventing Crossover Accidents
The primary method of preventing cross-median crashes is to design the highway with a median that is sufficiently wide. In theory, this could allow drivers who leave the road to recover control and re-enter the highway going in the right direction.
Often, however, divided roads are build with relatively narrow medians in which barriers are erected to help stop errant vehicles from entering oncoming traffic. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recommends the use of barriers in medians that are 50 feet wide or narrower. Some states have set higher standards, and South Carolina is among them, deciding that barriers are appropriate for median widths of 60 feet or less.The federal government does not require the installation of barriers in the medians of divided highways.
There are three basic categories of median barrier systems:
- Rigid barriers, typically made of concrete panels, are relatively low in cost and maintenance. However, because rigid barriers do not absorb a great deal of energy in a crash, resulting injuries are more severe.
- Semi-rigid barriers, or guardrails, typically consist of segments of metal railing supported by posts and blocks. The assembly is designed to move during an impact, thereby absorbing some of the energy of the crash.
- Cable barriers are considered the most effective system for reducing the severity of crossover crashes. Cable median barriers are composed of three or four steel cables, tensioned and strung on posts. In a collision, the posts break and the cables flex, absorbing most of the crash’s kinetic energy and redirecting the vehicle along the barrier and away from oncoming traffic.
Compensation for Crossover Accidents
The Columbia car wreck lawyers of the Louthian Law Firm can help you obtain compensation from a negligent driver whose reckless behavior caused them to lose control of their vehicle and veer across the highway median into your lane of traffic. Whether the accident resulted from their excessive speed, distracted driving, drowsiness or failure to properly maintain their vehicle, you shouldn’t have to bear the cost of your medical treatment, rehabilitation, loss of income, or pain and suffering. With eight decades of combined legal experience, we have a proven record of obtaining just compensation for our valued clients.
In the aftermath of a car accident, you may not be aware that conditions of the highway itself could have contributed to the severity of your accident. All types of median barrier systems must be properly maintained, particularly after an accident. If they were not repaired after a crash that occurred before yours, they did not afford your family the protection it was due. In some instances, the design or manufacture of the barrier system has resulted in a faulty product. When the Louthian Law Firm handles an accident case, we look for every possible source of compensation, including manufacturers, installers, and those responsible for repair and maintenance of median barrier systems.
Contact the Louthian Law Firm at (803) 454-1200 or complete our online inquiry form for reasoned advice from seasoned professionals if you or your loved one has been the victim in a cross-median accident.