Highway Cable Guards Can’t Stop Tragedy

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(Memphis) Eight families are unexpectedly planning funerals after their loved ones are killed in a horrific East Tennessee church bus crash on I-40.

A dozen are still in the hospital this afternoon.

Despite the tragedy it's not being investigated by the feds because of the government shutdown.

News Channel 3 investigated a similar crash three years ago involving cable guard rails.

Three hundred miles of Tennessee interstates have cable guard rails in the median.

The purpose of the rails is to keep vehicles from crossing the median causing head on collisions.

Yesterday, a church bus snapped the cables crossing into oncoming traffic where it hit a transfer truck and SUV.

Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee have spent tens of millions of dollars to put up this cable guards.

There’s no law requiring them, but the Tennessee Department of Transportation says they do it out of precaution in areas where there are a lot of wrecks.

“The cable barrier rails are designed to catch the misguided vehicle around the chassis or the grill or the bumper, but if you get the larger vehicles that are loaded they are not going to completely stop or redirect those vehicles,” said Nicole Lawrence with TDOT.

Tennessee Highway Patrolmen say the bus blew a tire and snapped right through the barrier crossing the median into oncoming traffic.

TDOT uses Level 4 cable which is recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board, but they claim it is most effective with lightweight vehicles and small trucks.

Though they can’t prevent all crashes, TDOT says the number of fatalities have been reduced because of the rails.

Keith Akers is driving to Colorado and doesn’t think we should discount the rails because of this tragedy.

“I would go with whatever the science says. I wouldn’t base it on one event,” said Akers.

Regina Guiles is driving with her family from Oklahoma and hopes this will make transportation officials reexamine safety measures--- because she knows how bad things can get.

“Just reckless with lane changes and stuff. The whole trip here I think we saw like 20 cars pulled over,” said Guiles.

Though the cable rails are most effective with lightweight vehicles, the national transportation safety board says nearly 20 percent of the accident involving median crossing involves heavy commercial vehicles.