The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

August 26, 2013

DOH explains how guardrails deter accidents rather than stop vehicles from going over cliffs

PRINCETON — While guardrails are a common feature on the mountainous roadways of West Virginia, not all motorists realize how guardrails are used to keep roads safe.

Tom Camden, manager of West Virginia Division of Highways District 10, explained that guardrails are more often used to deter accidents rather than preventing vehicles from going over cliffs or ravines.

“Guardrails are themselves an obstruction,” he said. “You have to determine if a guardrail would actually make an area safer or just make accidents in the area worse.

“Normally, when it comes to new installation of guardrails, we pick areas where there have been multiple requests from the public or local entities or where a traffic study has indicated a guardrail may be of use.”

While guardrails are used to keep motorists safe, Camden said not many people realize guardrails are supposed to be used more as visual cues than barriers to prevent accidents.

“Guardrails are supposed to guide you onto the road or help you register where the safe place on the road is for your vehicle,” Camden said. “Odds are if you hit a guardrail it won’t stop your vehicle. It may slow your vehicle down if you hit it at the right speed, right angle and depending on your vehicle. A lot of people want guardrails to protect their personal property.”

Camden said the DOH gets the most guardrail requests not in particularly mountainous areas but rather areas with the largest amount of road.

“Given the terrain, we get guardrail requests equally out of all the counties we serve,” he said. “We do get more requests from the counties with more roads, particularly Mercer and Raleigh in District 10. Of course, we do more work repairing guardrails we already have than putting in new ones.”

A mix of state funding and insurance claims helps cover the cost of replacing guardrails, Camden said.

“We have a certain amount of money we get each year specifically for guardrail repair,” he said. “We can also claim property damage on a guardrail against a person’s insurance if they hit one of our guardrails. Funds for routine maintenance also go toward replacing guardrails.”

District 10 is currently in the process of bidding out a new contract for guardrail replacement in Mercer, McDowell, Raleigh and Wyoming counties. Camden said guardrail work is done through contract rather than in-house because of the special equipment required for installations.

“The company we contract with will handle any new installation of guardrails and all repairs for a year,” he said. “It is generally included for them to repair guardrails damaged due to accidents. Typically, the contracts are good for a year. This one will expire on June 30, 2014, but may have a grace period while we work out our next contract. This will only cover state roads or road managed by the DOH.”

— Kate Coil is a reporter for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.

Text Only
Latest News
  • Saints 1 VIDEO: Greenbrier ready for Saints

    The goal posts are up. The lines are on the field. The closets are stocked with Gatorade and the pads and helmets are hanging in the lockers.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • W.Va. health officials find clinic reused its needles

    Health officials on Monday advised patients of a West Virginia pain management clinic to be tested for blood-borne infectious diseases after an investigation found that needles had been reused.

    July 22, 2014

  • Auto Fair winner Auto Fair attracts 15,000 visitors despite cool weather

    Although Mother Nature fast-forwarded to September temperatures throughout the weekend of the Friends of Coal Auto Fair, thousands of people came out to see the show and support the YMCA of Southern West Virginia.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • TWV raises $1,700 for Just For Kids

    Theatre West Virginia provides the southern part of the Mountain State an opportunity to see live, outdoor dramas, but this year, it’s giving back even more.

    July 22, 2014

  • WVDA expanding Hemlock Woolly Adelgid program

    Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick has announced that the West Virginia Department of Agriculture's (WVDA) Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) Program has expanded to include all counties currently infested with HWA.

    July 21, 2014

  • Two in custody after allegedly beating Whitesville man

    Two men remained in Southern Regional Jail Monday morning after they allegedly beat up another man in his home in Whitesville. The West Virginia State Police would not release the name of the victim, who came to Raleigh General Hospital on his own.

    July 21, 2014

  • Impersonating an officer

    More details emerged Sunday from the Mercer County Sheriff Department’s investigation into a male subject who used a blue, bubble-style dash light to initiate a traffic stop of a female driver Friday night on Route 20 near Athens.

    July 21, 2014

  • 'Ghost murals' being restored across Appalachia

    Coca-Cola Consolidated is working across Appalachia to restore “ghost murals.”

    July 21, 2014

  • Kids Take Nashville Stanaford girl sings for ‘Kids Take Nashville’ CD

    A Raleigh County girl has gone Nashville, and she’s asking West Virginians to show the Mountaineer Spirit by helping her win the 2014 Gospel Artist award and the Young Guns/Horizon Award 2014 at Clay’s Country Radio.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Biscuits 1 Cooked fresh: Carolina man makes biscuits for campers at Lake Stephens

    Campers who awaken at the Lake Stephens Campground may think they’re still dreaming when they smell biscuits baking on weekend mornings. But they aren’t. Thanks to one adventurous culinary camper, fresh biscuits beside the water are becoming a staple.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos