Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-11-023
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 define the criteria for median barrier selection, including heavy vehicle traffic volume.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Highway
Location: Munfordville, KY, United States
Is Reiterated: Yes
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: 12/14/2015
Response: From the Report: Truck-Tractor Semitrailer Median Crossover Collision With Medium-Size Bus on Interstate 35, Davis, Oklahoma, September 26, 2014, Highway Accident Report NTSB/HAR-15/03 (Washington, DC: National Transportation Safety Board, 2015, Notation 8610B): The NTSB communicated the specific circumstances of the Davis crash to the FHWA, the TRB, and AASHTO. We highlighted the advanced guidelines of some states in reducing fatal crossover crashes, as well as the lack of standardization among the states when defining factors such as crash rate history. Based on discussions with the NTSB, the TRB revised the work plan for NCHRP project 22-31 to examine heavy vehicle crossover median crashes by looking at historical crash data and police reports. In addition, the proposed guidelines for the selection and placement of TL-2 through -5 median barriers will consider the frequency of heavy vehicle median crossovers and traffic volume. NCHRP project 22-31 represents an opportunity, over the next 3 years, to collect valuable data for revising the RDG, while also meeting the requirements of the four related recommendations from the Munfordville investigation (NTSB 2011). However, the project will not be completed until June 2018. This nearly 3-year wait time for guidelines that could save lives is a long period, particularly for the states that are currently considering developing specific median cable barrier guidelines. However, an interim solution may be possible. The findings of NCHRP project 22-31 are not expected to contradict any of the findings from this crash or the ODOT guideline for median cable barrier installation. Rather, it is anticipated that the project will provide expanded guidelines for the installation of all types of median barriers. The NTSB concludes that the circumstances of the median crossover crash in Davis, together with the ODOT median cable barrier guidelines, could provide state departments of transportation with critical information to take provisional steps before the completion of NCHRP project 22-31. Therefore, the NTSB recommends that the FHWA disseminate information to the state departments of transportation about the circumstances of the Davis crash and the ODOT revised median cable barrier guidelines that resulted in the installation of a median cable barrier at the crash site. Although NCHRP project 22-31 presents an opportunity to address the four recommendations from the Munfordville investigation, it will not be completed until 2018. Furthermore, the circumstances of this crash and the actions taken by ODOT indicate that the issues raised in the Munfordville recommendations, such as crash rate history, are still relevant. Therefore, the NTSB reiterates Safety Recommendations H-11-22, -23, -32, and -33 to the FHWA and AASHTO, respectively.

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 Recommendations H-11-21 through -23 are classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FHWA
To: NTSB
Date: 12/7/2011
Response: -From Victor M. Mendez, Administrator: The FHWA will work with AASHTO to define the criteria for median barrier selection, based on the information gathered during the activities related to recommendations H-II-21 and -22, which include heavy vehicle traffic volume. We cannot provide a specific timeframe to complete this work because of the dependence on the results of NHCRP 22-12(03). We may also incorporate into the Roadside Design Guide the recommendations on high-performance roadside and median barriers. Once we present the results of that research, we will provide an update with an expected timeframe to complete the tasks associated with this recommendation.