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Situational Awareness Related to "Death Fences"


tobyzusa

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I’ve seen a lot of really good posts on various situational awareness scenarios, but I’ve never seen a post on what my mind processes, and in my opinion my mind appropriately names, a “Death Fence”.

 

In Texas and Arkansas (and I’m sure elsewhere), I’ve started to see more and more divided highways with a median, separated with cable fences. The intended purpose of the barrier is to prevent head-on crashes between automobiles. For a biker, those cables and associated 4” poles spaced every 20 feet or so, look sinister to me. As I ride, my mind continually reminders me, remember, “Death Fence” on the left. If I were to go down at speed and slide toward this barrier, the result would, in my opinion, be far worse that if the barrier were a traditional concrete barrier that is typically seen on divided highways. I take no solace in the fact that the fence is more air than immovable materials, since it runs parallel with my path. A “get off” in that general direction will almost certainly place the rider directly into the path of an immovable object.

 

So when I have a “Death Fence” on my left, I typically try not to ride in the fast lane, which is usually the lane I feel most comfortable in.

 

So am I the only one that has had this thought?

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yes

 

Edited by repo (Tue Jan 30 2007 12:10 PM)

 

ok - just kidding. I can't say I specifically think of those wires, I just try to be aware of everything around me. But, I like your "death fence" name for them....

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It's a concern in Europe, but I haven't seen comparable concern in the US (which isn't saying that it doesn't exist).

 

From page 38 of ACEM's infrastructure handbook (PDF)

Research in Australia has shown that when a motorcyclist loses command of his machine the probability of him getting killed doubles in case of crashing into a safety barrier system.

and

Motorcyclists often express their concern about the perceived dangers of "wire rope safety fences" (WRSF) or "cable barriers". Lobbying by PTW organizations launched protests against the use of these devices. Sometimes the use of cable barriers is prohibited on specific locations. However, limited research done so far does not warrant the conclusion that cable barriers are more hazardous than other types of barrier.

 

See also Motorcyclists & Crash Barriers Project Report

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<hijack alert>

Michael, RE your .sig -- Yeah get a stripper to letter the tank. She'd be awfully fun to watch. (A striper, however, would probably do a better job of it...)

</hijack>

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See, that's where I go back and forth too. Quality of the process or the outcome? But in the meantime at least I'm enjoying the question ...

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ShovelStrokeEd

Back on topic.

 

Yeah, I see those fences now and then although here in the east it seems to be Jersey barriers. There are still a few of them on the outside of the road though.

 

I can't say I focus on them much, if at all. My primary concern is to remain on the road so the quality of what is off there really doesn't come much to the fore be it a "death fence" or California's 3 rocks the size of watermelons separated by 30 feet and preceded by 10 feet of gravel to keep you from going over a 1000 foot cliff. frown.gif

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A couple of thoughts:

 

1. Considering the human characteristic of "target fixation", it might be best to avoid staring at any sort of barriers on the side of the road. It would be more productive to observe what's happening far ahead, so you can be better in control of your machine and the situation.

 

2. Cable barriers might serve as sort of a "cheeze slicer" if your body happened to slam into the wires, but those steel "Armco" rails are also hazardous. If you happen to crash into and slide along the top of a steel barrier, you'll get sliced and diced just as easily.

 

It's a jungle out there. Use your brain.

 

pmdave

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I seen a deer get bounced off the front bumper of a Volvo class 9 truck and hit one of those fences. The fence grabbed the deer and flung it into succeeding uprights tearing it to pieces. Barely enough big pieces for the roadkill collector guys to pick up afterwards.

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2. Cable barriers might serve as sort of a "cheeze slicer" if your body happened to slam into the wires, but those steel "Armco" rails are also hazardous. If you happen to crash into and slide along the top of a steel barrier, you'll get sliced and diced just as easily.

20+ years ago, a friend lost control and ride into the barbed wire fence. It did the cheese slicer action and nearly took his leg off. frown.gif

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Motorcyclists often express their concern about the perceived dangers of "wire rope safety fences" (WRSF) or "cable barriers". Lobbying by PTW organizations launched protests against the use of these devices. Sometimes the use of cable barriers is prohibited on specific locations. However, limited research done so far does not warrant the conclusion that cable barriers are more hazardous than other types of barrier.

 

For those interested in being part of the follow-up research, contact Australian DOT... no experience or references required.

 

Hey, it all in the name of science and for the greater good. eek.gif

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I’m not so sure I agree.

 

Part of the success of the cable barriers you speak of is that they have some ‘give.’ The slack along the total length is taken up at the specific point of contact, thus increasing the deceleration time of the moving vehicle. Unlike with a sold concrete barrier where you stop right now. In a motorcycle encounter I would think the same dynamics would work to your advantage. It would slow you over a period of milliseconds, where a solid barrier would not. And of course stop the transgression of you, now out of control, into oncoming traffic. The whole point of them being there in the first place.

 

ISFA the ‘slice and dice’ effect; a thick, somewhat slack cable isn’t necessary going to have the same effect on your body as a tensioned thin steel wire such as a farmer’s fence line would have.

 

And besides, if one of them happens to keeps some errant cage from coming across into my side some day, I’m going to be glad they’re there then too.

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I’m not so sure I agree.

 

Part of the success of the cable barriers you speak of is that they have some ‘give.’ The slack along the total length is taken up at the specific point of contact, thus increasing the deceleration time of the moving vehicle. Unlike with a sold concrete barrier where you stop right now. In a motorcycle encounter I would think the same dynamics would work to your advantage. It would slow you over a period of milliseconds, where a solid barrier would not. And of course stop the transgression of you, now out of control, into oncoming traffic. The whole point of them being there in the first place.

 

ISFA the ‘slice and dice’ effect; a thick, somewhat slack cable isn’t necessary going to have the same effect on your body as a tensioned thin steel wire such as a farmer’s fence line would have.

 

And besides, if one of them happens to keeps some errant cage from coming across into my side some day, I’m going to be glad they’re there then too.

 

Ken, if the cables don't get you, the retaining columns certainly will.

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Regardless of the hazards in the center median, the #1 lane is the safest place to be on a divided, multilane highway. It puts you furthest away from the all lane changes and slow traffic hazards in the "slow lane" and keeps all the cage hazards only on your right. The left shoulder is your friend in case you need an out. Other drivers are far more dnagerous than the hazard of fixed objects on the roadway.

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Ken, if the cables don't get you, the retaining columns certainly will.

 

There has been quite a campaign against these wire fences in the UK for many years, and IIRC the Highways Agency has finally agreed to limit their use.

 

The main concern, of course, is the posts - as the deer example (the 'deer departed' as our vicar might say).

 

One option has been two-part interlocking foam 'attenuators' which clip around the posts.

 

However, I wouldn't actively avoid riding in the lane nearest these barriers for fear of hitting one.

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