Multi-State In-Service Performance Evaluations of Roadside Safety Hardware

Each year, roadway departure crashes in the United States result in serious injuries and fatalities. Between 2012-2014, the average number of fatalities per year resulting from roadway departure crashes was 18,355. (Source: Fatal Analysis Reporting System, NHTSA). Roadside safety hardware (e.g., guardrail, bridge rail, crash cushion, etc.) is installed along the roadways to reduce the risk of serious and fatal injuries to motorists in advertent road departures. Impact performance criteria for roadside hardware are detailed in the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH), based on full scale crash testing. MASH prescribes a set of specific crash tests that are limited to frontal crashes of cars, light trucks, and selected heavy vehicles. The tests are conducted under ideal site conditions (e.g., non-sloped surfaces, idealized soils for post embedment, installation by expert installers, and carefully controlled impact conditions). MASH tests represent only a fraction of the potential types of crashes and site conditions which motorists may experience in the field. While an important means of checking impact performance, the tests are limited in what they can tell us about field performance where vehicles and occupants experience a broad range of site, impact, and field conditions. From the time NCHRP Report 230 was published in 1981 to the current testing guidelines in MASH, in-service evaluation has been recommended as the final step in evaluating roadside hardware. NCHRP Report 490, published in 2003, provided detailed procedures and guidelines for performing in-service evaluations of roadside safety hardware. Although the roadside safety community has agreed for three decades about the importance of in-service evaluations, and procedures have been available for nearly a decade, relatively few in-service performance evaluations (ISPE) have been completed. The evaluations and role in making decisions about roadside safety is not well defined. Those that have been conducted were by states in isolation from one another. A standardized methodology is needed to allow states to perform both multi-state and nationally compatible individual ISPEs to evaluate the performance of roadside safety hardware currently in service on the nation’s highway system. Results of this research will enable transportation agencies to set and evaluate their level of safety risk and use quantitative information in the decision-making process. The objective of this research is to develop a unified format and national compatible ISPE methodology employing various individual state database parameters. The implementation of the methodology shall include an electronic tool, guidance document, and training for performing an ISPE on roadside safety hardware devices either by a corridor or system type analysis. The results of the developed ISPE methodology shall be demonstrated and verified by a pilot effort, which shall include hosting a workshop and post workshop technical support to selected states. The workshop will provide a pilot implementation training program and training materials to demonstrate the new protocol and identify any common issues and challenges of conducting a multi-state ISPE on selected roadside safety hardware devices for state transportation agencies, such as but not limited to various data parameters, limitations and measures of effectiveness. The guidance is intended for use by state transportation agency officials. The research should build upon previous work, provide guidance, and address the opportunities, challenges, institutional barriers, and associated costs of a state and a multi-state ISPE.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $650000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 22-33

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Bush, Mark

  • Start Date: 20181210
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 40858

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01599003
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 22-33
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: May 12 2016 1:00AM