Last week I blogged about tractor trailer accidents in the I-85 construction zone. Unfortunately, the situation doesn’t appear to be getting any better.
The Newnan Times-Herald recently reported that along one stretch of I-85, the north-bound and south-bound sides of the interstate are separated only by a narrow grass median. Moreover, the Georgia Department of Transportation says that they have no plans of erecting guardrails or any other kind of barrier. Just 20 feet of grass separates north and south-bound drivers.
When the road widening project is completed later this year, there will be additional 12-foot emergency lanes on either side of the flat grass median. Crystal Paulk-Buchannan of the Georgia DOT says that the total “recoverable zone” will be 44 feet wide.
But Coweta County Commissioner Randolph Collins says that some type of barrier is needed to prevent unnecessary accidents. Collins, who is also a Georgia State Patrol trooper and former member of the Georgia State Patrol’s Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team that investigates serious accidents, says, “The median is so flat and there is nothing there to catch a vehicle.”
On June 22, Teresa Parham was instantly killed when her car crossed the median and collided with a tractor-trailer truck. Parham was traveling southbound when she lost control of her car. Another fatal crossover accident occurred in the same vicinity last year.
Currently, the speed limit in the construction zone is only 50 miles per hour. Collins wonders, “So what are we going to do when it gets to 70?”
DOT District Engineer Thomas Howell said that the Federal Highway Administration has approved the installation of cable median barriers; however, there are no funds to purchase the barriers.
“This is a safety concern,” said Collins. “They don’t have the money to pay for it, but let’s find the money.”
Not all medians have barriers, but many of them wider, or they have a ditch in the middle of them. But near Newnan, one stretch of the median is completely flat.
“It is human instinct that, if there is a crash in front of you, or you’re too close for some reason, you go left or right,” said Collins. “If you are in the left lane, the only place you can go is to the left, and then you lose control.
“You’re traveling 70 miles per hour, and all of a sudden, the car in front of you does something stupid. You try to avoid it, you go left, and you’re going into the median. And then you’re head-on into somebody else.”
Because of the physics involved, crossover collisions are some of the most deadly. Imagine two vehicles colliding head-to-head at 70 mph.
“How do you survive that?” asked Collins.
And just imagine the damage that occurs when one of those vehicles is a tractor-trailer truck.
Be extra cautious when you’re driving in the construction zone on I-85 south of Atlanta. Even after the construction ends, you might want to stay in the right-hand lane!
If you’re injured in an auto accident or tractor trailer accident, call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule your free consultation.