When a vehicle impacts a guardrail, the end terminal should ideally curl behind and slow the vehicle down. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go as planned.
The Southeast Transportation Center at the University of Tennessee shares insight as to how proper guardrail systems should work under more stringent MASH regulations. After four deaths in 2016 that were connected to guardrails, it appears that the end terminals don’t always curl as they should. Instead of curling like a ribbon and slowing the vehicle, the end terminal snapped in half and impaled the vehicle. This is incredibly dangerous and must be corrected.
The MASH safety guidelines test vehicles in a variety of different ways, including more testing angles and with larger weighted vehicles. It also factors in the slope of the land, conditions that soil posts are in and demands a better design for the guardrail system itself. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has adopted the MASH standards that will otherwise be accepted nationally in 2019.
The new standards will be much safer and will work harder to not snap the end terminal of the guardrails in half. Unfortunately, any vehicle traveling at extremely high speeds may cause the guardrail to act unpredictably when hit, but the MASH standards will heighten safety measures nonetheless. Every situation differs from one accident to another, but enhancing the capacity of the guardrail is a good starting point to prevent the guardrail from malfunctioning and causing danger to drivers and passengers of the roadway.
It is positive to see transportation authorities across North America moving towards safer guardrail standards and taking safety mechanisms seriously.