Rail height effects on safety performance of Midwest Guardrail System

Mojdeh Asadollahi Pajouh, Ramen D. Julin, Cody S. Stolle, John D. Reid, Ronald K. Faller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objective: Guardrail heights play a crucial role in the way that errant vehicles interact with roadside barriers. Low rail heights increase the propensity of vehicle rollover and override, whereas excessively tall rails promote underride. Further, rail mounting heights and post embedment depths may be altered by variations in roadside terrain. An increased guardrail height may be desirable to accommodate construction tolerances, soil erosion, frost heave, and future roadway overlays. This study aimed to investigate and identify a maximum safe installation height for the Midwest Guardrail System that would be robust and remain crashworthy before and after pavement overlays. Methods: A research investigation was performed to evaluate the safety performance of increased mounting heights for the standard 787-mm (31-in.)-tall Midwest Guardrail System (MGS) through crash testing and computer simulation. Two full-scale crash tests with small passenger cars were performed on the MGS with top-rail mounting heights of 864 and 914 mm (34 and 36 in.). Test results were then used to calibrate computer simulation models. Results: In the first test, a small car impacted the MGS with 864-mm (34-in.) rail height at 102 km/h (63.6 mph) and 25.0° and was successfully redirected. In the second test, another small car impacted the MGS with a 914-mm (36-in.) rail height at 103 km/h (64.1 mph) and 25.6° and was successful. Both system heights satisfied the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) Test Level 3 (TL-3) evaluation criteria. Test results were then used to calibrate computer simulation models. A mounting height of 36 in. was determined to be the maximum guardrail height that would safely contain and redirect small car vehicles. Simulations confirmed that taller guardrail heights (i.e., 37 in.) would likely result in small car underride. In addition, simulation results indicated that passenger vehicle models were successfully contained by the 34- and 36-in.-tall MGS installed on approach slopes as steep as 6:1. Conclusions: A mounting height of 914 mm (36 in.) was determined to be the maximum guardrail height that would safely contain and redirect 1100C vehicles and not allow underride or excessive vehicle snag on support posts. Recommendations were also provided regarding the safety performance of the MGS with increased height.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-224
Number of pages6
JournalTraffic Injury Prevention
Volume19
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 17 2018

Keywords

  • Highway safety
  • crash testing
  • finite elements
  • guardrails
  • maximum height
  • roadside hardware

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Rail height effects on safety performance of Midwest Guardrail System'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this