Local News

DOT May Place Safety Breaks In Medians

Posted July 20, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT

— Medians are designed to save lives, but rescue crews say they lose crucial time while trying to drive around the safety barriers. Some changes could be on the way.

N.C. Department of Transportationofficials say they are willing to put median breaks along interstates -- for safety purposes -- on a case-by-case basis.

Paramedic Henry Smith says the long stretches of medians without crossovers along the beltline prevent him from getting to accident victims that may be on the other side.

"We sometimes have to travel as far as five miles out of our way just to get back to the wreck," Smith says. "It's unsafe for us to let people out to walk across traffic because of drivers going 60, 70 miles per hour. So sometimes we have to delay patient care slightly just to get around to the patients."

Sgt. Wade Bulloch of theState Highway Patrolsays the safety breaks would help to cut down on response time.

"It would help us respond to some crash scene quicker, but as far as going out and being able to cross the median, you would have to have a complete wide-open median, so I don't think the breaks themselves will help us in the enforcement of traffic laws," Bulloch says.

The DOT has previously been reluctant to place breaks in the median barriers because they reduce the number of fatalities caused by motorists crossing into the other lane.

Drivers who illegally cross median breaks face stiff fines and points against their driving record.

One safety break has already been installed in eastern Wake County near the Johnston County line.