Brooke Wisdom | November 1, 2009
Roadway safety has become more important than ever
“Roadway condition is a contributing factor in more than half of the deaths resulting from motor vehicle crashes each year, so it makes good sense to improve the safety of our roadways with brighter signs, stripes, guardrails, rumble strips and other roadway safety devices and features, many of which can be installed at a relatively low cost,” James Baron, American Traffic Safety Services Association’s director of communications, told Better Roads.
Driver distractions or inattentive driving play a part in one out of every four motor vehicle crashes — 5 million collisions a year, more than 4,300 crashes daily — making it imperative to pay close attention to our driving habits and those of other drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). That also means it’s important to make sure that roadways are kept as safe as possible by using safety barriers, and other roadway safety devices.
A roundup of some of the safety products on the market follows.
Hill & Smith’s Zoneguard portable traffic steel barrier is made from lightweight, steel, at 61 pounds per foot and meets NCHRP 350 Test Level 4 and Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) 8, Test Level 3 standards. This means 750 feet can fit on one truck — 15 pieces at 50-feet each) versus 80 to 120 feet of a traditional concrete barrier. No hand tools are needed for installation with the company’s patented speed-joint system used as the connection method.
The Mobile Barriers Trailer (MBT-1) from Mobile Barriers is an integrated, rigid wall, trailer that can be used in conjunction with standard semi-tractors. The barrier provides 100 feet of barrier and protected work area. The modular barriers have interchangeable right/left configurations and are FHWA accepted at TL-2 & TL-3 under both NCHRP 350 & new MASH criteria.
Transpo Industries, Inc.’s Visi-Barrier polymer concrete bridge rail and tunnel panels are innovative, precast polymer concrete panels used for median barriers, tunnels, bridge parapets and rails. An optional retro-reflective safety stripe gives high visibility in all weather conditions. The bright, white surface resists salts, chlorides and corrosion and can be custom designed to fit a wide variety of sites.
The Vulcan Barrier from Energy Absorption Systems, a subsidiary of Quixote Transportation Safety, combines high-speed barrier protection with high-performance design. Vulcan Barrier delivers positive crashworthy protection as a portable steel longitudinal barrier with the necessary flexibility for constantly evolving work zones and lane configurations. The Vulcan Barrier meets NCHRP 350 TL-3 and TL-4 and EN-1317 H2 and N2 test requirements as a longitudinal redirecting barrier.
The O-Frame Parade Barricade from Davidson Traffic Control Products conforms to Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, is MUTCD compliant and says it is the only parade-style barricade which complies with Section 6F.38 of the 2003 MUTCD, addressing Detectable Edging for Pedestrians in Work Zones. It features molded in holes and stubs for attachment and stabilization of barricade lights and uses either plastic or traditional boards.
The X-Tension Median Attenuator System (X-MAS) from Barrier Systems is a NCHRP 350 TL-3 re-directive, bi-directional, non-gating impact attenuator that requires no foundation and attaches directly to a double-faced guardrail. It has a hazard width range without transitions of 22 to 28 inches, a TL-3 length of 40 feet, and a height of 32 inches.
The Gregory Mini Spacer (GMS) Guardrail and Thrie Beam System from Gregory Galvanizing features W-Beam approved NCHRP 350 to Test Level 3, Thrie-Beam approved NCHRP 350 to Test Level 3, and is engineered for predictable release and improved safety by eliminating blocks that rely on slot deformation. The system can be used with 12-foot, 6-inch; 6-foot, 3-inch; or 3-foot, 1-1/2-inch post spacings at mounting heights of 27-5/8 inches to 31 inches. GMS releases the guardrail as force thresholds are reached. Release is independent of guardrail thickness, strength, bolt position in the slot, single or double-ply of guardrail, or bolt tightness.
Trinity Highway Products, LLC’s Hybrid Energy Absorbing Reusable Terminal (HEART) is a reusable, restorable, non-gating, re-directive crash cushion that uses High Molecular Weight/High Density Polyethylene (HMW/HDPE) side panels and a rounded frontal nose piece, which are connected to steel diaphragms mounted on tubular steel tracks. Anchor bolts are easily accessible without the removal of side panels or diaphragms. The system is NCHRP Report 350 Test Level 3 compliant.
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