Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center

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Safety Evaluation of Cable Median Barriers in Combination with Rumble Strips on the Inside Shoulder of Divided Roads

Product Type

Research Report


Raghavan Srinivasan, Bo Lan, Daniel Carter, Bhagwant Persaud, and Kimberly Eccles




The Development of Crash Modification Factors program conducted the safety evaluation of cable median barriers in combination with rumble strips on the inside shoulder of divided roads for the Evaluation of Low Cost Safety Improvements Pooled Fund Study. This study evaluated safety effectiveness of cable median barriers in combination with rumble strips on the inside shoulders of divided roads. This strategy is intended to reduce the frequency of cross-median crashes, which tend to be very severe. Geometric, traffic, and crash data were obtained for divided roads in Illinois, Kentucky, and Missouri. To account for potential selection bias and regression-to-the-mean, an empirical Bayes before–after analysis was conducted using reference groups of untreated roads with characteristics similar to those of the treated sites. The analysis also controlled for changes in traffic volumes over time and time trends in crash counts unrelated to the treatment. In Illinois and Kentucky, cable median barriers were introduced many years after the inside shoulder rumble strips were installed; therefore, the evaluation determined the safety effect of implementing cable barriers along sections that already had rumble strips. Conversely, in Missouri, the inside shoulder rumble strips and cable barrier were implemented around the same time. Hence, the evaluation in Missouri determined the combined safety effect of inside shoulder rumble strips and cable barriers. The combined Illinois and Kentucky results indicate about a 27-percent increase in total crashes; a 24-percent decrease in fatal, incapacitating, non-incapacitating, and possible injury crashes; a 22-percent decrease in fatal, incapacitating, and non-incapacitating injury crashes; and a 48-percent decrease in head-on plus opposite-direction sideswipe crashes (used as a proxy for cross-median crashes). The results from Missouri for total and injury and fatal crashes were very similar to the combined Illinois and Kentucky results. However, the reduction in cross-median crashes in Missouri was much more dramatic, showing a 96-percent reduction (based on cross-median indicator only) and an 88-percent reduction (based on cross-median indicator plus head-on). The economic analysis for benefit-cost ratios shows that this strategy is cost beneficial.

Link To Research Report

Safety Evaluation of Cable Median Barriers in Combination with Rumble Strips on the Inside Shoulder of Divided Roads


Rumble strips
cross-median crashes
safety improvements
safety evaluations
empirical Bayesian
cable barrier
median barrier

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