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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-11-021
Details
Synopsis: On Friday, March 26, 2010, about 5:14 a.m. central daylight time, near Munfordville, Kentucky, a 1999 Freightliner truck-tractor in combination with a 1998 Strick Corporation 53-foot-long van semitrailer, owned by the motor carrier Hester, Inc., and being driven by a 45-year-old male, was traveling south on Interstate 65 (I-65) near milepost 61.5. The truck departed the left lane of southbound I-65 at a shallow angle and entered the 60-foot-wide depressed earthen median between the southbound and northbound roadways. The truck traveled across the median and struck and overrode the high-tension, four-cable, alternating-post median barrier adjacent to the left shoulder of northbound I-65. It then crossed the left shoulder and entered the travel lanes of northbound I-65. At that time, a 2000 Dodge 15-passenger van, driven by a 41-year-old male and occupied by 11 passengers, was traveling northbound in the left lane. As the truck crossed in front of the van, its tractor was struck by the van. The van rotated clockwise and became engaged with the truck’s trailer; the two vehicles continued across both travel lanes and the right shoulder of northbound I-65. As the truck and van traveled across the right shoulder, the van separated from the truck, struck the cut rock wall beyond the shoulder, and rebounded back into the travel lanes, coming to rest in the left lane of northbound I-65, facing south. The truck’s tractor struck the cut rock wall, and the vehicle rolled onto its right side. As the truck came to rest across both northbound lanes, a fire ensued that destroyed the tractor and the sides and roof of the semitrailer. As a result of the accident and subsequent truck fire, the truck driver, the van driver, and nine van passengers died. Two child passengers in the van, who were using child restraints, sustained minor injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the probable cause of this accident was the truck driver’s failure to maintain control of the truck-tractor combination vehicle because he was distracted by use of his cellular telephone. Contributing to the severity of the accident were a median barrier that was not designed to safely contain or redirect the heavy vehicle and the lack of adequate guidance to the states in the form of high-performance median barrier warrants. One issue that the NTSB identified during its investigation was the need to provide objective warrants, rather than general guidelines, for the application of median barriers. This issue area has elements that concern the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION: Work with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials to establish warrants and implementation criteria for the selection and installation of Test Level Four and Test Level Five median barriers on the National Highway System.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Highway
Location: Munfordville, KY, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: HWY10MH011
Accident Reports: Truck-Tractor Semitrailer Median Crossover Collision With 15-Passenger Van
Report #: HAR-11-02
Accident Date: 3/26/2010
Issue Date: 10/4/2011
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FHWA (Open - Acceptable Response)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FHWA
Date: 2/27/2017
Response: We are encouraged to note that you continue to work with AASHTO to research and develop the recommended median barrier guidance called for in these four recommendations. Pending our review of the revisions to the Roadside Design Guide and your adoption of the resulting guidance, Safety Recommendations H-11-21 through -23 and H-12-23 are classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FHWA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/28/2016
Response: -From Gregory G. Nadeau, Administrator: The FHW A has worked with the AASHTO TCRS to pursue research that will specifically address the concerns raised by the NTSB. Collectively, we believe the following research completed, forthcoming, and published through the NCHRP provides guidance for selecting high performance longitudinal barriers (roadside barriers, median barriers, and bridge railings) considering traffic volumes, vehicle size and weight, and crash experience. Details about this research are available on the NCHRP webpage at http://www.trb.org/NCHRP/NCHRP.aspx. • Recently Completed Research: NCHRP 22-21, Median Cross-Section Design for Rural Divided Highways and NCHRP 22-27, Roadside Safety Analysis Program (RSAP) Update • Forthcoming Research: NCHRP Project 22-31, Recommended Guidelines for the Selection and Placement of Test Levels 2 through 5 Median Barriers • Published Reports: o NCHRP Report 638, Guidelines for Guardrail Implementation- Table 20 on Page 24 is an example of the objective guidance provided by Report 638. It relates the highway functional class, median width, and traffic volumes to Test Levels 2 through 5. The FHWA will continue to recommend this information be included in the next update of AASHTO's Roadside Design Guide (RDG). o NCHRP Report 711, Guidance for the Selection, Use, and Maintenance of Cable Barrier Systems- This report provides guidance on issues related to lateral placement, system length, anchorage requirements, transitions, and cost and maintenance. The information included in this report will help highway agencies use better designs and ensure appropriate placement of cable barrier systems to reduce serious injuries and fatalities. The AASHTO is responsible for publishing highway design criteria to be used by the States and has begun to rewrite the RDG. The FHW A has requested that AASHTO incorporate these research findings into the RDG, with special attention to these NTSB recommendations. When the next edition of the RDG is published by AASHTO, FHWA will review it and consider adopting it as a guidance document. In the meantime, the RSAP is available for States to use on a project-by-project basis or to develop barrier placement warrants suitable to their conditions. The RSAP includes factors that directly address the NTSB recommendations. We believe FHWA has met the intent of all these recommendations by collaborating with AASHTO to conduct research to update the RDG. We have also disseminated relevant information to our field offices and the States. We respectfully request these recommendations be reclassified as Closed-Acceptable Action.

From: NTSB
To: FHWA
Date: 10/30/2014
Response: We appreciate your continued efforts with AASHTO to complete the research projects that provide the basis for the Roadside Design Guide (RDG) update. We note that members of your staff are participating on the RDG rewrite team and that, upon publication, you will consider adopting the new edition of this guide. As codifying the RDG will provide an authoritative single point of reference for state transportation agencies, completion of these actions as planned will satisfy Safety Recommendations H-11-21 through -23 and H-12-23. Accordingly, pending the revision of the RDG and its subsequent adoption, these recommendations remain classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FHWA
To: NTSB
Date: 7/29/2014
Response: -From Gregory G. Nadeau, Deputy Administrator: The Federal Highway Administration (FHW A) Office of Safety worked closely with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Technical Committee on Roadside Safety (TCRS) on barrier issues to develop projects and pursue research through the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). The following are recently completed studies that address the recommendations: • NCHRP Project, 17-44, Factors Contributing to Median Encroachments and CrossMedian Crashes. The final report was received from the research team and is currently undergoing review for publication. • NCHRP Project 22-1 2(03), Recommended Guidelines for the Selection of Test Levels 2 through 5 Bridge Rails. The final report was received from the research team and is currently undergoing review for publication. • NCHRP Report 638, Guidelines for Guardrail Implementation. Published as an on-line report at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/nchrprpt638.pdf. • NCHRP Project 22-21, Median Cross-Section Design for Rural Divided Highways. The final report was received from the research team and is currently undergoing review for publication. • NCHRP Project 22-25, Development of Guidance for the Selection, Use, and Maintenance of Cable Barrier Systems. Published as NCHRP Report 711 , Guidance for the Selection, Use, and Maintenance of Cable Barrier Systems and available at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/nchrprpt7ll.pdf. • NCHRP Project 22-27, Roadside Safety Analysis Program (RSAP) Update. Published as an on-line report at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/docs/NCHRP22-27 FR.pdf. The AASHTO has begun the process to re-write the Roadside Design Guide (RDG). A team, consisting of TCRS members with FHWA representation, will edit each chapter. The individual chapter authors for the sections dealing with barrier design were asked to incorporate the research findings into the RDG, with special attention to the NTSB recommendations. When AASHTO publishes the next edition of the RDG, FHW A will review it and consider its adoption as an FHW A guidance document. Through collaborative efforts, the FHWA and the AASHTO TCRS advanced significant research as the various NCHRP reports demonstrate. Collectively, we believe these studies address the Board's recommendations to provide guidance for selecting high performance longitudinal barriers (roadside barriers, median barriers, and bridge railings) considering traffic volumes, vehicle size and weight, and crash experience. We respectfully request that recommendations H-12-23 and H-11-21 through H-11 -23 be classified as "Closed Acceptable Action."

From: NTSB
To: FHWA
Date: 9/12/2012
Response: The NTSB notes that the FHWA is working with AASHTO on several National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) projects that, once completed, will provide the basis for improved guidance to the states for the selection and use of appropriate median barriers. Pending our receipt of further updates detailing the FHWA’s progress in addressing these recommendations and the issuance of final guidance, Safety OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FHWA
To: NTSB
Date: 12/7/2011
Response: -From Victor M. Mendez, Administrator: The FHWA worked with the Technical Committee on Roadside Safety (TCRS) of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) to develop and revise the Roadside Design Guide (RDG) which included warrants and implementation guidance for median barriers. An updated version of the RDG was issued in August 2011. The FHWA will work with the TCRS to use the results of the current National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Project 22-12(03), "Recommended Guidelines for the Selection of Test Levels 2 through 5 Bridge Rails" as well as NCHRP Report 638, "Guidelines for Guardrail Implementation" to develop guidance for States to use in selecting high performance median barriers (as well as bridge rails, and roadside barriers). We recognize that this research is specific to bridge rails; however, we feel strongly that the information gathered from this research will be highly applicable to median and roadside barriers as well. The NCHRP Project 22.-12(03) has an anticipated completion date of mid-summer 2012. The timeframe to issue guidelines for warrants will depend on the results of NCHRP 22-12(03) and other relevant research. We will provide an update once the results of this research are presented and a timeline is developed. In addition, a new version of the Roadside Safety Analysis Program (RSAP 2) is under development in NHCRP Project 22-27. The RSAP provides a software tool that analyzes the cost and effectiveness of barrier applications, considers the probabilities of vehicles leaving the road, striking a barrier or object, and causing injuries to vehicle occupants. We expect this tool to provide a more robust means to develop future warrants. The results of NCHRP Project 22-12(03) and NCHRP Report 638 will be considered as RSAP 2 is developed. Similar to the issuance of guidance based on the results of NCHRP 22-12(03), the timeframe for the development of future warrants relies heavily on the results of NCHRP Project 22-27. For that reason, the specific timeframe for completion cannot be determined until those results are available.