Traveling down the road nowadays it has become perfectly common to spot different kinds of road crash barriers. They are used in every country as a safety measure that will prevent people from facing accidents and other mishappenings. Everybody knows that the roadside hazards can be a very serious threat, but many consider some barriers as unnecessary obstacles along the way. Especially when they’re placed in the middle of the road. On the other hand, every government claims that they’re an essential part of every road construction project since they ensure safe transportation for all drivers, mainly in the form of absorption of the force of impact. Either way, it is important for every road user to identify road crash barriers, so let’s take a look at the types.
From Jersey With Love
Let us first take a look at the origin. They all share the common name of jersey barriers, but have you ever wondered why? Because these seemingly simple partitions that divide the traffic are actually quite sophisticated and shouldn’t be taken for granted – in order to ensure perfect safety in the event of a crash, their designs have been well-tested and adapted since they were first used in California in 1946 to replace the weak wood beam guardrails on Ridge Route Highway. This route was the first Dead Man’s Curve with the 6-percent downgrade of the road that produced many head-on collisions. Then the state of New Jersey adopted similar concrete structures in the similarly hazardous section of US Route 22 in Hunterdon County. Although these initial barriers reduced the impact of collisions quite successfully, the highway engineers of New Jersy continued to tinker with their design following the observation of the number of accidents and created progressively larger prototypes. And thus the standard barrier was created in 1959 that would bear the name of the state where it was developed although its implementation would become global and its design would achieve the variety before us.
One thing that divides road crash barrier types is the way they deal with the force of impact.
These flexible systems are made with wire rope and their design makes the vehicle smoothly redirect after the car crash, minimizing the severity of the impact. They consist of wires and frangible posts in between so they are able to divert any type of vehicle. But the impact itself creates the damage to these barriers and they need to be repaired afterward.
These rigid systems are structures of reinforced concrete and the vehicles that have lost control will be contained and redirected. Upon hitting the barrier the vehicle will only experience the small impact, which makes these types of barriers most suitable for places on the road where the impact angles are low. The maintenance is low and the heavy vehicles will experience the highest protection.
These semi-rigid systems consist of steel beams and rails, so they don’t deflect as much as the flexible ones, but upon the point of impact, they become deformed completely. Usually, they are installed very close to hazards and there are a lot of types, most common ones being the Thrie-Beam steel system and the W-Beam steel barrier Type 4.
The other thing that divides road crash barrier types is the location they are placed on.
From steep slopes that cause rollover crashes and fixed objects such as bridge piers to bodies of water, the purpose of these roadside barriers it to defend the traffic from roadside hazards or obstacles. They can be also used with medians to prevent vehicles from the collision with hazards within the median.
The purpose of these is to prevent the vehicles from hitting oncoming ones in a head-crash by crossing over a median. For this reason, their design needs to allow them to be smacked from either side.
The plan behind these bridge barriers is to hold down the vehicle from crashing off the side of a bridge and to prevent its fall into the river, onto the railways, or the roadway below. In order to prevent buses and trucks, but also cyclists and pedestrians from rolling or vaulting over the barrier where they could fall over the side of the arrangement, they are generally built higher than roadside barriers.
- Work Zone
Their sole purpose is to be guardians of traffic against hazards in work zones. This makes them possess a distinguishing trait of the ability to be moved due to the shifting conditions in the roadworks. The two most common types are the water-filled barrier and a temporary concrete barrier. The second is more preferred because the first can’t be used in cold weather – it is composed of steel-reinforced plastic boxes which are linked together in order to form a longitudinal barrier where it is required, and in the end, ballasted with water. Nevertheless, they don’t require heavy lifting equipment to be collected, which is certainly a benefit.
Now you know where and you know why. They are obstacles, but they’re positioned for a good reason.