Cable Median Barriers Are Making Oklahoma Highways Safer

Between 2006 and 2015, The Oklahoma Department of Transportation will have installed 436 total miles of cable barrier, which will complete planned installations on Oklahoma’s Interstate system.

Many States are installing cable median barriers in locations where there is a high potential for crossover crashes. Studies in other states have shown substantial reduction in fatal and injury crashes compared to other types of median barriers. The federal government has encouraged states to review median crossover crash histories to identify locations where median barriers may benefit safety, and consider use of cable median barriers where appropriate.

The Oklahoma State Transportation Commission recently approved the installation of nearly 30 miles of new cable barriers along highways in Creek and Nowata counties.

The $1.9 million project will be funded with federal funds.

The cable barriers approved will be added at six locations:

  • Oklahoma 16 in Creek County from the junction of Oklahoma 66 and 16, extending north about 5.5 miles.
  • Oklahoma 99B in Creek County from the junction of Oklahoma 33 and 99B, extending north about 1.7 miles.
  • Oklahoma 99 in Creek County from the junction of Oklahoma 99B and 99, extending north about 7.5 miles.
  • U.S. 60 in Nowata County from the junction of U.S. 169 and U.S. 60, extending east about 10 miles.
  • Oklahoma 10E in Nowata County from the junction of U.S. 169 and 10E, extending east about three miles.

Oklahoma 10W in Nowata County from the junction of U.S. 169 and 10W, extending west about two miles.

More than five years after the state Transportation Department began large-scale efforts to install cable barriers along Oklahoma's most dangerous stretches of highway, the number of crossover fatalities has dropped significantly.

Transportation officials say the safety devices, which are considerably cheaper than concrete barriers, are a success. The number of people killed in crossover accidents has dropped from 39 in 2007 — the year the transportation department began installing the barriers in earnest — to just six last year.

Officials say crossover accidents can be disastrous because vehicles often collide with other cars, trucks and tractor-trailers headed in the opposite direction. Such accidents often leave drivers and passengers badly injured or dead.

The State Transportation Department, said it was crossover fatalities that led the agency to start installing cable barriers in the first place.