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Scary Expressways

Posted July. 29, 2005 03:04,   


A Mr. Yu claimed that the Korea Highway Corporation (KHC) is responsible for his car accident by presenting the wreckage on the road as evidence. The KHC declined the demand on the grounds of a Supreme Court verdict in 1992 about a similar case. Concerning a car accident case caused by a car that crossed the center line of an expressway to dodge a tire on the road, the Supreme Court ruled for the KHC by saying, “Although the KHC bears the responsibility to clear the roads, it patrolled the roads regularly and it is admittedly difficult for them to get rid of all the obstacles right away.”

On the way to Cheonan from Daejeon to hear Dong-A Ilbo reader Mr. Yu’s report about his accident and the ruling, objects that could be dangerous were easily witnessed here and there on the expressways.

Plastic containers for gas were scattered around on the Gyeongbu Expressway (From Seoul to Busan) at a spot two kilometers ahead of the Juk-am rest area and on the road right before the exit to West Cheongju.

The major cause for jumbled expressways is trucks. Five kilometers before the Cheongwon rest area on the Gyeongbu Expressway where the shoulder is temporarily diverted to a regular lane due to construction to elevate the median strip, patches of recycled tire separated from truck tires were found here and there.

One kilometer before the Ibjang rest area, cars had to make a sudden and dangerous move to the neighboring lane to avoid large pieces of recycled tires.

An assistant leader of a patrol team said, “Shoulders are as good as regular lanes in case of emergency,” adding, “Patrol cars sometimes get punctures by nails or the like while driving on the shoulder.”

The police are also aware of the dangerous possibility that wrecks of a car accident or fallen cargo from a truck could cause traffic accidents. Even a small block can lead to a catastrophe on expressways where most cars drive at over 100 kilometers per hour.

The police said an accident occurred a day earlier due to an object that fell from a truck. A Mr. Ki (43) was driving on Gyeongbu Expressway around 10:40 a.m. on July 26 near the Nami exit when his windshield was broken by an object dropped from the truck driving in front of him.

Mr. Ki claimed compensation to the KHC, but the Supreme Court ruling in 1991 forced him to give up.

The patrol team estimates that out of some 100 traffic accidents reported monthly in their district, about five percent are caused by obstacles on the road or fallen stuffs from trucks.

The Cheonan office of the KHC said, “We patrol the expressways in our district about nine times a day to remove objects on the roads, but it is not easy to clean the roads with all the cars running at high speed.”

A patrol team leader said, “In some countries, it is mandatory for truck carriages to have sides and a door like a box to prevent cargo from falling on the roads. We should adopt such regulations ASAP.”

Myung-Hun Jee mhjee@donga.com