Barriers play lifesaving role

LUCKILY no one was killed in this smash. But if it wasn't for the central reservation the accident could have been much, much worse. Today JAMES MARSTON investigates how the middle of the road has been improved to save lives.

LUCKILY no one was killed in this smash. But if it wasn't for the central reservation the accident could have been much, much worse. Today JAMES MARSTON investigates how the middle of the road has been improved to save lives.

THIS dramatic picture is a stark reminder of how close to disaster that lorry driver came.

In atrocious conditions, the jack-knifed vehicle blocked the A14 at 6.30am just as commuter traffic was building up. It caused traffic chaos, the road was closed and Ipswich faced gridlock as a result but thankfully no lives were lost.

Thanks to the central reservation the lorry stayed on the Felixstowe-bound carriageway until help arrived.

We take it for granted but without the fence it could easily have ploughed into oncoming traffic, blocking both carriageways and maybe even causing injury or death. Its life saving capacity is not in question.

Timma Ramos, spokeswoman from the Highways Agency said: “Since the beginning of 2007 errant vehicles have struck the central reservation safety fence 36 times on the A14 and A12 solely in Suffolk.

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“This has potentially stopped vehicles crossing over onto the opposite carriageway which could result in very serious accidents occurring.”

First and foremost the central reservation provides a protective area between opposing carriageways. She added: “Central reservations are also important as they allow space for other road features apart from safety fence such as drainage, signing, ducting for services such as telephone cables or gas mains, street lighting and crossover points for access to junctions.”

On the A12 in Suffolk there are eight miles of central reservation from Ipswich to Stratford St Mary and 50 Miles of central reservation on the A14 in Suffolk from Felixstowe to Kentford.

Over the years improvements have been made by the Highways Agency to make our county's major roads safer.

Timma said: “The main and most important improvement made to central reservation was the introduction of safety fence onto the A14 and A12 central reservations in the early to mid 1980's.

“The safety fence was introduced to reduce the increasing number of crossover accidents which were occurring since the opening of the A14 and A12.”

“Some of the continuing improvements that are being made to the central reservations are the closing of some central reservation crossover points to junctions, safety fence improvements and the hardening of central reservations to reduce maintenance requirements.”

Chief Inspector Martin Barnes-Smith of Suffolk roads policing unit said: “On the faster roads safety barriers stop people crossing into the path of oncoming vehicles. When there is an accident they contain vehicles on their side of the carriageway. From a safety point of view the central reservation prevents serious collisions.”

Has the central reservation saved your life?

Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The central reservation is known as the 'median' in North America.

On UK motorways the central reservation is never broken, but there are no such restrictions on other dual carriageways.

The central reservation in the UK, and other densely populated European countries, is usually no wider than a single lane of traffic.

On the M62's highest section through the Pennines, the road splits wide enough to accommodate a farm in the central reservation.

Source en.wikipedia.org

Rule 149 of the Highway Code refers to dual carriageways. It says you must: “When crossing or turning right, first assess whether the central reservation is deep enough to protect the full length of your vehicle.”

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