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Indianapolis Man Dies in Median Crossover Accident

Steve Wagner

An Indianapolis man was northbound on State Road 37 when his pickup truck drifted across the median and into southbound traffic around 10 p.m. Joseph T. Birtchman, 33-years-old was traveling just north of Bloomington near Crossover Road when the accident happened. Birtchman’s pickup collided with an oncoming mini-van driven by Victoria E. Wielosinski from Bloomington. Birtchman died as a result of the accident, and Wielosinski was taken to IU Health for injuries that are considered non-life threatening. The accident investigation is ongoing.

Are Median Barriers the Answer to Median Crossover Accidents?

At the location of the accident above, State Road 37 is a four-lane divided highway, with a grassy median. Fortunately, it appears the other driver will survive this accident, but median crossover crashes often result in unnecessary fatalities or life-altering injuries for individuals in both vehicles. Median crossovers where one car hits another are almost always head-on collisions, which we know are the most dangerous and deadly of all accident types. People involved in head-on collisions are at high risk for head injuries, brain injuries, and spinal injuries, as well as other types of blunt force injuries to the body.

In many cases, counties have turned to median barriers as a way of preventing such deadly crossover accidents. Such barriers are said to decrease the number of accidents by up to 70% by preventing vehicles from simply drifting over into traffic traveling in the opposite direction. Three types of barrier systems exist:

  • Rigid Barriers (Concrete)
  • Semi-Rigid Barriers (Guardrails)
  • Flexible Barriers (Cables)

All types have a positive impact on decreasing head-on collisions due to vehicle crossovers; however, there are also tradeoffs related to cost, aesthetics, and safety. On SR 37, concrete barriers would certainly change the atmosphere of the roadway in a way that most people would find undesirable. Some rural counties where crossover collisions are common choose the barriers anyway. The likelihood of deadly accidents simply outweighs other considerations. In other locations, such rigid barriers may make much less sense.

Cost is a fairly straightforward consideration, but there are safety tradeoffs for roadways with barriers. The main concern is for emergency workers and vehicles who have a much more difficult time getting to accidents and injured victims when barriers are in place. This means rescue efforts will lose critical minutes in efforts to save seriously injured drivers and passengers.

One thing is for sure, median crossover accidents are deadly, especially when compounded with too-common driver risks like excess speed, driving under the influence, or not wearing seatbelts. Again, these risky behaviors can occur more frequently with drivers on rural roads. In short, Indiana roads can provide a perfect storm for crossover accidents, both on two lane roads and four lane divided highways. If you have lost a loved one as a result of another driver’s wrongdoing, the motor vehicle accident attorneys at Wagner Reese will fight to ensure the victim’s family is taken care of. We don’t rest until justice is served. Call us today for a FREE consultation at (888) 204-8440.


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