Saving Lives using the Most Commonly Found Road Safety Barrier Systems
In many instances, urban migration has led to population explosions in many African cities over the last two decades. Subsequently, there has been an equal increase in the use of public roads, highways and other infrastructure. The sheer volume of additional vehicular traffic, partnered with permitted speed limits has consequentially increased the need for road safety barrier systems.
An intelligently positioned road safety barrier system has several life-saving advantages. Its presence immediately improves road safety at the point of its location, as many motorists tend to reduce speed when approaching one. This not only reduces the number of vehicle collisions at the site, but also lowers the severity of one should it occur.
There are many different types of roads traversing a country’s length and breadth, and for every road type, there is a particular criterion for a road safety barrier system that best suits it. These systems are broken down into two broad categories. They are either a static (or permanent) structure, or a movable, temporary road safety barrier system. In this article, we will briefly explore the subset groups of these two broader categories, discussing the most commonly used road safety barrier systems of each.
3 Most Common Static Barrier Systems
As its name suggests, these road safety barrier systems are permanent fixtures to their specific road types. Although there are many designs and variations to them, three have proven to be the most commonly used on the roads.
- Wire Rope Safety Fence – The most forgiving road safety barrier system is made from strong, flexible, twined steel cables affixed to weaker wooden or steel-planted posts. These life-saving fences capture or redirect the vehicle, dispersing kinetic energy while slowing it down and allowing for less occupant impact force from the collision, potentially saving lives.
These cabled devices are very effective and are commonly used at impact areas where damage and injury past the netting are potentially more hazardous than the cabled structure. This particular road safety barrier system does, however, need some space between its position and potential elasticity limit. They are more suitable for slopes and are usually found at centre medians.
- Corrugated and W-beam Guardrails – This guardrail is less forgiving than its cabled counterpart but still makes for a most effective road safety barrier system. Known as semi-rigid impact rails, W-beams and the wavier corrugated beam barriers are similarly mounted on wooden or steel-planted posts. They are specifically designed to deform and absorb kinetic energy on impact while deflecting and redirecting the crashed vehicle.
By virtue of its rigidity, it has less elasticity and therefore may be used in tighter spaces. Additionally, they are less prone to maintenance following minor collisions. They are extremely versatile, and may be used on both straight road types where speed limitations are intermediate, or curved bends where their deforming ability effectively deflects impact situations.
- Concrete Barrier – This road safety barrier system is rigid, which results in almost zero kinetic energy absorption. It is usually sloped, with a thicker base tapering upward to a thinner top. Another version of this system is one with an inverted “Y”-shaped base, also known as “A” walls. Both of these systems have been specifically designed to assist with side deflection. Lifting, shifting and deflecting the momentum of an impact forward.
These safety barriers are usually found on freeways, flyovers and faster-paced traffic road types. Their primary functions are, preventing collisions with oncoming traffic, vehicles leaving the road where hazards are greater on the opposing side of the barrier, or protecting contractors, machinery or equipment working on construction projects on the opposite side of the concrete segments.
Although often moulded and formed on-site before or during the laying of the roadway as a permanent road safety barrier, they may also take on a hybrid form. Segmented concrete barriers may be temporarily positioned end-to-end to perform similar duties during the construction of more permanent solutions.
3 Most Commonly-used Temporary Road Safety Barriers
The most commonly-used temporary safety barriers are often echoed by their permanent counterparts, however, the difference is, these safety barriers are much more cost-effective. They’re specifically designed and manufactured to be lightweight, easy to maintain, reusable and portable.
- Waterfilled Safety Barriers – Manufactured from high-impact, UV-stabilised Polyethylene, these interlocking safety systems are a perfect solution to spatial division. Like many temporary barrier solutions, these units are not impact-resistant. However, when filled with sand or water, their weight and bright yellow visibility ensure that brakes are applied by passing motorists.
Although a potential hybrid like the concrete portable barrier is an option, it is cumbersome and heavy to transport. A 28kg barrier is stackable and particularly portable while the 17 and 6kg versions offer a perfect division of space in narrower roads and urban areas.
- EuroNEAT™ System – This is one of the most innovative end treatments for either permanent or temporary road safety barrier systems. It’s lightweight at only 147kg. It’s compact and portable, and has integrated caster wheels to aid in positioning and resetting. It takes 15 minutes to install with no special tools and links directly to the end of a lineal barrier. Once installed, it will offer impact protection for speeds up to 80km/h. No road safety barrier system is complete without this self-contained unique unit.
- Dura-Post® Delineator – The pro-boxer of road safety barrier systems. These devices are extremely impact-resistant and have been tested to withstand over 200 impacts at 97km/h. They will withstand impact from any direction and return to an upright position.
They are UV-resistant and can withstand extreme weather conditions ranging between -20 to 60*C, and are a noticeable bright yellow and offer 360 degrees visibility. Other added advantages are that they have no protruding metal parts, are a one-piece unit post-construction and meet MUTCD.
The many systems may be used autonomously in their functions as explained above, or in concert with an assorted range of other barriers. Often, a symbiotic use of two or more barrier systems for the same road type may be implemented. Buffer systems, stop-ends and other permanent and portable impact prevention safety equipment are also recommended for an overall, optimum road safety barrier system.
Regardless of the combination, however, the main objective is always the same; that being to promote optimum safety on all road types while saving lives. Armco Superlite manufactures and distributes a full range of static and temporary road safety supplies. If you are constructing an optimum road safety barrier system, consult with Armco Superlite, and we will assist you in completing the contract safely.
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