Choosing the Right Crash Cushion Saves Lives

Road agencies and highway engineers realize the importance of specifying the most appropriate crash cushions and terminals (also known as crash attenuators) to ensure proper crash performance and economic life cycle costs. Selecting the proper system based on site parameters saves lives and can result in significant lifecycle savings when making purchasing decisions. Unfortunately, not enough of these agencies understand the questions to ask regarding site-specific conditions, design performance criteria and reusability requirements when making these decisions.

To address these questions, IRF held a webinar on June 27 attended by over 170 highway and safety professionals in 18 countries. The webinar reviewed crash cushion applications, described current performance-based standards (NCHRP 350/MASH / EN1317) and presented the recommendations to allow road authorities to make the right decisions regarding the use of crash cushions and terminals.

“Current guidelines are necessary but insufficient to allow road authorities and design engineers to make the appropriate decisions regarding the use of crash cushions and terminals”, noted Mike Dreznes, IRF executive Vice-President and host of the webinar. “We need objective criteria to allow authorities to make intelligent decisions”. With the progressive adoption of AASHTO’s revised Roadside Design Guide both at State-level and overseas, combined with the growing availability of safety products on the market, the webinar constituted a timely effort to bridge essential knowledge gaps.

“Ultimately”, noted Dreznes “it all comes down to site analysis and lifecycle assessment. It is true that if a crash cushion is located in a high-collision environment, road authorities are encouraged to consider re-usable / lower maintenance systems. But if a crash cushion is hit so often that their crews are frequently called out to repair the system, they should first ask themselves what are the site conditions that are leading to these impacts”.

A recording of the webinar is available on demand. Please contact Magid Elabyad (, Director of Training & Membership Services, for details.

IRF is not liable for any information provided by these webinars. These programs are intended for general informational purposes only, and not as a substitute for particular advice from a qualified professional. No warranty is made regarding the webinars.

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