Oakland Tribune from Oakland, California on February 25, 1968 · 11
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Oakland Tribune from Oakland, California · 11

Oakland, California
Issue Date:
Sunday, February 25, 1968
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THE S U N D AY T RIBU N E SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 1968 ------ Road Structures Can Maim or Kill By HERMAN WONG The blood-soaked scene Is a shocker. It dravs from passing motorists or. that same freeway stretch their silent prayers of thanks for not being the victim. For several yards away on the roadside is an automobile , or what once was a bright and glossy 1960's sedan wrapped around the ends of a "protective", guardrail and crumpled in a hideous squeeze-boxed heap. The driver or what remains of him is wedged in the front seat. He had died swiftly. As instantaneously as the accident itself - had occurred, one of those skid-and-smash affairs that he must had thought happened only to the other guy. Exhaustive investigation will produce this lethal formula for death: high speed plus ineffectual tires, plus warping of a driver's judgment by "a few" after-work drinks. It will also add another factor, wiidi may or may not have been the direct "cause" of death, but surely a vicious contributor to the total impact. The guardrail. It was built to keep vehicles from tumbling off a steep embankment but it was also one of those of unyielding design. The jutting, untapered ends of the guardrail literally skewered the oncoming car.. This, s?dly enough, Is an all too-familiar part of the nightmare of highway slaughter that haunts California . where automotive travel is a necessity of life and often a prelude to death. Collectively the guardrail Is in the area of highway safety that planners call "fixed objects." These are the large or small structures built onto or inserted in the median strips or shoulders and other roadside areas. They include the median barriers, the sign, posts, the bridge abutments and even trees. They can maim, and also kill, just as surely as can certain conditions produced by the vehicle, the weather, the roadway surface or the driver himself. Don't believe it? Consider the 714 persons killed in 1966 on California freeways. A total of 269 persons were killed in accidents where cars ran off the road and struck a fixed object. Another 169 were killed in cars running off the road but without striking a fixed object. Off - the - road - accident fatalities far outnumbered those in other categories tabulated by the California Highway Patrol. ' A total of 87 were killed in rear-end accidents, 54 in cross - median (into oncoming traffic) accidents and 31 in wrong-way accidents (such as going into the wrong freeway turn off). Additionally, 80 pedestrians were killed on the freeways. (A few deaths were in miscellaneous categories.) Highway officials point out that the CHP's tabulation does not preclude the possibility that a detailed study would pinpoint the probable "prime cause" for any one off-t h e -r o a d accident. Alcohol atone, based on recent studies, Is a prime suspect in this type or any other type of accidents. But officials do feel the CHP report starkly depicts a frightening situation they have dealt with for years, and that increasingly more' of the public's attention and appro-p r i a t i o n s must go toward fixed-object safety. For example, fixed-object realignment and other changes are part of the more than $11 million being spent by the Division of Highways in its 1967-68 fiscal year in the "spot improvements" category. About $630,000 is for the heavily congested Bay side of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. These spot improvements, usually costing under $50,000, are for specific "deficient" sites which also include . im-proved delineation (raised markers, curbing, striping, widening of road and signal-light systems. Gerald L. Russell, traffic engineer of the Division of Highways, however, points out that such improvments also are inclined in other fiscal categories and therefore these figures do not spell out the state's total efforts. In the 1968-69 budget, the California Highway Commission again has set aside more than $11 million for spot improvements, including about $947,000 for the Bay side of the two counties. Even more specifically, the commission is spending $7 million in 1967-68 to give further impetus to demonstration-type projects on fixed-object safety. In its simplest terms, the program is to protect the driver from himself and from fixed objects, similar tn theme to the now-current "defensive driver" campaign. It is also the growing recognition of one glaring, tragic fact of motoring even the , Continued on Page 10, Col. 1 v nJWV- Vc- ' Wj . a v YW Pfi iv I- U III jj in HI M 1 1 ; 1 1 Us ;- 11 lh I I li- S j l4Xfct t II If' mtj j I j f t T ij t -1 .J ll j I I ! If Ik i ll ' :i "4 ::: - -:J4 I' ll fir - . J ill1!. tv ! , krTZ.--"" ! I t s ft If It! i f . t v 1 n( J ' t: 1 ; W Bay Brjdge Approaches Death Traps Tribun pMM by Hint Rt4 from PccifM tlMw Aviation axint A CLOSER LOOK AT 'RAT MAZE' WHERE EASTBAY FREEWAYS BEGIN One perilous area at right is Eastshore traffic aiming for Cypress Street exit New highway department figures confirm a gloomy, long-held . belief of Eastbay motorists that the sections where most freeway accidents occur are on the approaches to the Bay Bridge. Authorities pin the blarrife' squarely on a traffic volume. Because of it many highways and freeways have become obsolete almost overnight in handling the increasingly huge swarms of motorists. Highway builders deny that poor design or inadequate volume projections are at fault but acit that the design of such old workhorse freeways as the Nimitz today is badly outdated to handle the workload. The N 1 m i t z 's newer and prettier sister freeway, the MacArthur is not yet subjected to the ravages of volume that planners say are sure to come. Some of this award-winning urban freeway's "better design" outclasses the Nimitz in such categories as longer and safer stretches for entry or exit movement, and more up-to-date medium and shoulder structure designs. But plaguing both these and other freeways are the crisscrossing nightmares of merging traffic, such as at approaches to the Bay Bridge distribution structure and entry-exit ramps for Oakland and other cities. No immediate projects are planned to al-- Jeviate these and similar trouble spots, since they would require major re-construction. This sort of problem Isn't expected to overrun the un- der-construction Grove-Shatter Freeway which, among other features includes the immense interchange with the MacArthur. On this elevated structure, all vehicles can use ramps that go straight to thei$. destination without battling cross traffic On that Bay Bridge distribution structure, the grand junction of three freeways known as the "rat maze," traffic is fast nearing peak monthly totals of five million vehicles. According to the most recent complete figures of the State Division of Highways, there were 167 accidents reported in 1966 in a half-mile area at the center of the maze. Included is a .10-mile segment of the double-decked Cypress Street approach of the Nimitz. These 167 accidents consisted of four fatal, 59 injury and 104 property-damage-only accidents. Not surprisingly, other major junction points on the Nimitz, MacArthur and East-shore freeways rank high in the incidence of accidents. These figures do not indicate either the severity or the ' type (that is, collision, off-the-road or whatever) of the accident. They are reported to the division in freeway sections ranging from .03-mile to .10-mile segments. After the Bay Bridge maze, the next high-incidence area in 1966 was a. nearly quarter.mile stretch of the Eastshore Freeway, centered at the Hoffman Boulevard junction in Albany. This is Continued on Page 14, Col. S it mi 5) rn "p n o) "c? WH 2 A Large 3-Store Furniture Group Recently Went Broke. Kohn's Bought Their Stock at a Low Price from the Creditors tob'"117 a m . m m w v. m . t sr - s ------ Pass on Fantastic Savings to Tou. inese wear values in rine furniture, mattresses, Mereo ana Appliances may never again be equalled. COME EARLY! SOME ITEMS 1 OF A KIND. STEQE & COLOR TV bv RCA, EMERSON, DU MONT, ETC Console Stereos with AMFM RADIO MIO80 6 FT. STEREO . . . 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