A comparison of freeway median crash frequency, severity, and barrier strike outcomes by median barrier type

Brendan J. Russo, Peter T. Savolainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Median-crossover crashes are among the most hazardous events that can occur on freeways, often resulting in severe or fatal injuries. The primary countermeasure to reduce the occurrence of such crashes is the installation of a median barrier. When installation of a median barrier is warranted, transportation agencies are faced with the decision among various alternatives including concrete barriers, beam guardrail, or high-tension cable barriers. Each barrier type differs in terms of its deflection characteristics upon impact, the required installation and maintenance costs, and the roadway characteristics (e.g., median width) where installation would be feasible. This study involved an investigation of barrier performance through an in-depth analysis of crash frequency and severity data from freeway segments where high-tension cable, thrie-beam, and concrete median barriers were installed. A comprehensive manual review of crash reports was conducted to identify crashes in which a vehicle left the roadway and encroached into the median. This review also involved an examination of crash outcomes when a barrier strike occurred, which included vehicle containment, penetration, or re-direction onto the travel lanes. The manual review of crash reports provided critical supplementary information through narratives and diagrams not normally available through standard fields on police crash report forms. Statistical models were estimated to identify factors that affect the frequency, severity, and outcomes of median-related crashes, with particular emphases on differences between segments with varying median barrier types. Several roadway-, traffic-, and environmental-related characteristics were found to affect these metrics, with results varying across the different barrier types. The results of this study provide transportation agencies with important guidance as to the in-service performance of various types of median barrier.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-224
Number of pages9
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
StatePublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Cable barrier
  • Crash frequency
  • Crash severity
  • Median barrier
  • Median crash
  • Thrie-beam guardrail

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Law
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics


Dive into the research topics of 'A comparison of freeway median crash frequency, severity, and barrier strike outcomes by median barrier type'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this