Guardrail Pierces Through Car on San Diego Highway

A car traveling on a San Diego highway rammed head-on into a guardrail but the driver escaped with minor injuries, California Highway Patrol officials said.

The force of the crash sent the metal barrier through the interior of the car and through the back window.

The crashed happened where Interstate 805 southbound transitions to southbound State Route 163 just before 5:25 a.m.

"This is really one of the most amazing pictures we've ever seen," said NBC 7 Traffic Anchor Whitney Southwick. "If the driver got away unhurt, that's going to even be more amazing."

CHP officials say the driver, a 21-year-old woman, escaped with minor injuries.

The Nissan Sentra didn't fare as well. The guardrail impaled the vehicle through its engine compartment.

The driver was booked into Las Colinas Women’s Detention Facility on suspicion of DUI, CHP officials said.

NBC 7 Investigates wanted to know more details about the accident and submitted questions to Caltrans. Below are the questions and the response from the agency:

• Confirming more than 50 feet of guardrail was removed from the scene (52ft)
Answer: About 50 feet of guardrail and two feet of anchor cable was removed/replaced and/or repaired by Caltrans Maintenance crews.

• Confirming the type of guardrail involved and replaced after this accident was made of “generic components” and was not manufactured by a particular manufacturer.
Answer: The guardrail and end treatment involved and replaced after the incident were made of generic components and were not manufactured by a particular manufacturer.

• Confirming the type of guardrail involved and replaced after this accident was called a “cable anchor”
Answer: The end treatment in place at the time of the incident on the transition ramp from southbound Interstate 805 to southbound State Route163 was an End Anchor Type CA (Cable Anchor). It was replaced in kind on the same day by Caltrans Maintenance crews.

• Is this similar to a breakaway cable terminal?
Answer: An End Anchor Type CA (Cable Anchor) is not designed to breakaway and therefore is different from a breakaway cable terminal.

• Is it common for this type of guardrail end treatment to function the way it did in this accident?
Answer: The primary purpose of a W-beam terminal is to provide anchorage for the barrier to allow the rail to remain strong for all impacts while minimizing injury to vehicle occupants in the event of a crash near or at the end of the terminal. Actual collisions will almost always differ from the specified conditions under which a terminal is tested. Vehicle types, vehicle position at impact, impact angles, impact speeds, points of initial contact, site conditions, and driver reactions have a significant effect on the end results of an actual collision.

• Can you find out what contractor of company was responsible for installing the guardrail involved in the accident
Answer: Caltrans Maintenance crews repair and replace damaged guardrail. It is likely that the guardrail and end treatment at the location of the incident had been repaired and/or replaced since the original installation in 1973. The contractor in 1973 was J. F. Shea, Inc.

• Can you find out what contractor of company was responsible for replacing the guardrail and installing the new one?
Answer: Caltrans Maintenance crews replaced the damaged guardrail and end treatment.

• When was the guardrail involved in the accident installed? Last inspected?
Answer: Facilities on the state’s highway systems are visually inspected for safety by Caltrans Maintenance crews on a weekly basis. This would include the guardrail involved in the incident.

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