Letter: Vehicle Fences

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Hi HJL,

I do a fair amount of traveling in the snowy states and have noticed a trend that I think is interesting. On both major highways and interstates I’ve seen more and more of the “crash cable” fences being erected between opposing lanes. While I’m sure the initial reason for the fences is to prevent a vehicle from slipping on ice and sliding into oncoming traffic, I can’t help but see an alternate “extra” use. The fences I’ve seen are constructed with 3 to 6 strands of 3/4 to 1 inch thick galvanized steel cable. The strands are fixed to substantial sized “H” beam posts that are cemented into the ground. These fences are 3 to 4 feet tall and go on uninterrupted for many miles. The only openings are for the occasional emergency vehicle turn around. I know of no highway vehicles that could traverse them or crash through them.

In the event of a “situation”, these fences would easily serve as a convenient vehicle containment barrier. While it was merely inconvenient last year when I got corralled behind a large accident for hours and couldn’t turn around, it would be much more concerning if I was in my vehicle on the way out of town to the BOL and some alphabet agency decided to block the highway. There’s no turning around in the median and no driving cross country.

My solution was to add two types of tools to my vehicle. The first was a good quality hack saw with quality metal cutting blades; the second was a heavy cable cutter. Keep in mind that even the largest bolt cutters will usually only open to 1/2 inch wide. A hack saw (and a strong arm), or a higher-end cable cutter, will cut through over one inch of steel. These both have many uses, but cutting my way through a barrier could be very valuable. Of course it goes without saying that damaging government property is still a crime, but in the right situation it may not matter much. – T.T.

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