Hank Investigates: Highway hazards

(WHDH) — Ryan Gould was driving on Route One in North Attleboro earlier this year, when all of a sudden…

Ryan: “It was a big boom.”

His truck hit something in the road.

Ryan: “I felt a huge shake.”

He pulled over and found:

Ryan: “My tire blew out, instantly, right down to the rim. I didn’t know what I hit. I saw a piece of metal.”

That piece of metal turned out to be this heavy, rusted out base that once held a road reflector.

Ryan: “This is unbelievable. Totally unbelievable.”

The state calls these “raised pavement markers.” They’re basically reflectors in metal casings. We found they were originally glued into the pavement by MassDOT in the 90s. They were supposed to be a safety measure to help drivers see their lanes, but now they’re actually making some roads unsafe.

Driver: “I saw a piece of debris come flying towards my car.It just came flying diagonally.”

In 2014, this one flew up and shattered this woman’s windshield on I-93 near Wilmington. The Mass State Police tweeted pictures of it.

Driver: “It was very scary because I was all covered up in glass.”

In 2016, another pavement marker hit a car here, along Washington Street in Hanover. The problem is after years of heavy traffic and changing weather these things come loose. This is the one that hit Ryan’s car. So how many are still in the roads?

MassDOT would not go on camera but told us there are approximately 50,000 Raised Pavement Markers on secondary roadways spread throughout the state.


Where are they? MassDOT told us, they don’t know! But, the state assured us, maintenance crews monitor roadway locations and remove raised pavement markers.

Really? Check this out: Two months after Ryan says he reported his collision to MassDOT, we found three more reflector casings just lying on the side of the road in the same area along Route One.

Ryan: “I definitely fear for people’s safety on this road.”

After we called, Mass DOT removed those markers. And they’ve also replaced some of the raised markers with recessed ones, like they did here along 93 in Wilmington. They say they do plan to replace them all eventually but a formal timeline for their removal is not available.

That’s chilling to Ryan who has this message for the state.

Ryan: “Fix it before someone dies.”

One more thing, if your car is hit by one of these reflectors, Massachusetts law says the DOT doesn’t have to pay for the damages.

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