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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation H-11-033
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 AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF STATE HIGHWAY AND TRANSPORTATION OFFICIALS: Work with the Federal Highway Administration to define the criteria for median barrier selection, including heavy vehicle traffic volume, and publish the criteria in the Roadside Design Guide.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Highway
Location: Munfordville, KY, United States
Is Reiterated: Yes
Is Hazmat: 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: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (Open - Acceptable Response)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
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: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
Date: 5/23/2014
Response: This letter concerns 16 open safety recommendations that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials between 2002 and 2012. I understand that we received requests from your staff to speak at two of your July committee meetings regarding several of these open recommendations. I am pleased to inform you that NTSB staff members are available to attend both meetings. For the July 16, 2014, meeting in Portland, Maine, of the Technical Committee for Roadside Safety, Mr. Dan Walsh, General Engineer, Office of Highway Safety, and Ms. Julie Perrot, Highway Safety Recommendation Specialist, Office of the Managing Director, will make a presentation and be available to discuss the following 12 roadside barrier recommendations.

From: NTSB
To: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
Date: 1/10/2013
Response: We note that AASHTO currently has several National Cooperative Highway Research Program projects underway that aim to improve current median design guidelines, to explore the development of guardrail test level warrants for medians, and to determine reasonable considerations for median barrier selection. Upon completion of these projects, AASHTO plans to work with the FHWA to examine the findings and develop guidance that will be incorporated into the AASHTO Roadside Design Guide. Pending publication of the revised guide, Safety Recommendations H-11-31 through -33 are classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
Date: 3/30/2012
Response: -From John Horsley, Executive Director: As the results of the research noted above are available, AASHTO will work with FHWA to define the criteria for median barrier selection, including heavy vehicle traffic volume, and update the AASHTO Roadside Design Guide.