Wednesday 25 April 2018

Concern over wire rope crash barriers sparks EU review

A FULL-SCALE review of central wire rope barriers on motorways and dualcarriageways has been ordered by the EU following mounting concerns over crashes involving motorcycles.

The wire barriers are in place on many Irish dualcarriageways and have been dubbed “cheese cutters” because of their potential to cause massive trauma to motorcycle riders who collide with them.

The EU has now asked its standards committee, which draws up technical specifications for the industry, to review the use of such barriers.

The Ministry for Transport in the Netherlands ordered the removal of the wire ropes as a result of mounting casualties.

The National Roads Authority (NRA) said yesterday that they looked forward to the review and would implement any changes in standards if they were required.

An NRA spokesperson said that all barriers on dual-carriageways and motorways had both positive and negative points.

A concrete barrier was better at taking the impact at locations where it was necessary to prevent vehicles going into oncoming traffic.

Wire rope barriers were used where the central median was larger and the rope was able to absorb the energy of the car.

“Yes, they (rope barriers) are an issue for motorcyclists. But any barrier is an issue for motorcyclists, “ added the NRA spokesperson.

Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins said wire barriers had already been banned in a number of EU countries including Britain, Norway, Austria and the Netherlands on safety grounds.

“Research has shown that motorcycle users were extremely vulnerable to having limbs severed and in many cases sustaining fatal injuries when striking either the wire ropes themselves or the supporting metal spikes, “ he added.

While the technical review recommendations had to be awaited, there was no reason why Ireland could not follow the example of other countries and remove the wire ropes, he added.

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