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Safety barriers along Tennessee Interstates may save lives

While all car accidents can result in serious injury, those involving head-on collisions often result in one or more deaths. The high numbers of head-on collisions that have occurred along Tennessee's Interstate 40 have led many to call upon the state's Department of Transportation to take action.

In one recent tragic accident along I-40, three men lost their lives. The men were traveling down the Interstate when a tire blew out on the pickup truck in which they were traveling. The force of the blown out tire caused the driver to lose control of the pickup truck and cross over the center median into oncoming traffic. The pickup truck hurled head-on into oncoming traffic and into the path of an 18-wheeler truck.

In this accident, the men had virtually no chance at survival. Head-on collisions typically occur when both vehicles are traveling at high speeds making the likelihood that fatalities will occur much greater. This is especially true when, as in this case, one of the vehicles involved is a large commercial truck.

This and other fatal accidents along I-40 have prompted some safety advocates to call for the erection of more safety barriers along vast stretches of I-40's center median. In fact, according to statistics from the federal government, the section of I-40 from Memphis and Nashville is one of the deadliest in the country.

Currently, Tennessee has 285 miles of median barriers along its 1,104 miles of Interstate. Other states with fewer miles of Interstate have more barriers and fewer fatal accidents. Tennessee's General Assembly recently passed a law requiring police to report whether or not median barriers are present at accident sites. There are not, however, currently no immediate plans to erect more median barriers.

Source: The Commercial Appeal, "Guest column: Tennessee trails on highway safety barriers," Roy Herron and Rachel Rodriguez, Aug. 18, 2012

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