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It is absolutely essential to have some sort of barrier in the median between two lanes of a highway, and it has to be strong enough to stop a truck. Head on collisions are the most dangerous kind of automobile collision possible. That is why high tension cable median barriers are an excellent choice to prevent these sorts of accidents in the widest area possible.
How High Tension Cable Median Barriers Work
High tension cable barriers are possibly the most advanced type of highway barrier that exists. They have reliability and sturdiness factors that almost match a concrete barrier, but they are even less expensive than metal guardrails. They require special care during the installation, as the piers must be anchored firmly in the earth and the cables must be tightened to exactly the right tension. This can vary according to temperature and climate, so specialized training is advisable for those who are going to be putting these barriers up. The same system will work anywhere, but the barrier tension will have to be set differently in a hot desert than it would in a cool forest.
Benefits of High Tension Cable Systems
The advantages to these systems are enormous. The tense steel lines can stretch as far as eight feet without snapping, and that means that there is tremendous “give” when they are struck by an out of control vehicle. The precious microseconds during which the cables strain to hold the automobile translate directly into a slower, gentler deceleration for the people inside the car. Although it is a matter for debate whether a concrete barrier or a tense steel cable does more harm to the crashing car, there is no doubt whatsoever as to which system is easier on the people inside the vehicle. Rebound accidents, where the car strikes the barrier and is reflected back out into traffic, are also lessened with this type of system. A speeding semi-truck could theoretically make it through one of these barriers, especially if they ran into it directly, but they would be greatly slowed and the force of the impact overwhelmingly diverted by the barrier.
The Economics of High Tension Cable Barriers
The inexpensive nature of high tension cable barriers means that they can be integrated more fully into the road design and construction. They are also less costly to repair. As opposed to low tension cable barriers, which lose crash protection effectiveness along the whole length of the barrier when there is a break in the cable, high tension barriers stay up and working even if there is a break or disjunction somewhere along the line. This can be a life saver in the case of multiple car collisions. It may take additional care in the design to make sure the cable is placed properly. Studies have shown that the major danger with these barriers comes when they are placed too low on the vertical plane, allowing the crashing vehicles to go substantially over the top or even fly over it entirely. Proper placement of the barrier should prevent this unlikely eventuality.
Companies like Gibraltar specialize in providing thoroughly modern highway materials and updates to them when they are available. The science of highway design is still evolving, and the future holds exciting possibilities for safe driving on efficient highways.