Originally created 11/12/06

Median barriers have been lifesavers



Police and emergency responders might not like them, but state transportation officials are all in favor of the cable barriers in the medians of interstate highways.

It has taken about five years for the state to install about 470 miles of the safety cables.

"Before we installed these cable barriers, the number of interstate crossover crashes had increased dramatically," Elizabeth Mabry, the executive director of the South Carolina Department of Transportation, said in a statement.

In 2000, 27 people died in crossover crashes on South Carolina interstates. In 2005, there was just one such fatality.

"The cable barriers have saved lives and will continue to do so in the future," said Jim Schweitzer, the state's public safety director.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, although crossover crashes occur far less frequently than other types of wrecks, they are three times more severe in fatalities and injuries. An average of 250 people are killed annually in crossover crashes on interstates, a federal highway study revealed.

The study found that from 1999 to 2000, more than 70 people were killed in 57 crossover crashes in South Carolina. The drop in crossover crash fatalities means that South Carolina's cable barriers are 99 percent effective, according to the agency.

Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or sandi.martin@augustachronicle.com.