Motorists likely take it for granted, and countless hours of engineering and ...
Motorists likely take it for granted, and countless hours of engineering and research go into the planning even some of the most mundane components of our transportation system. Well, that includes guardrails lining thousands of miles of U.S. roads. A recent study shows said guardrails may be due for the raise, though.
The study from University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Midwest Roadside Safety Facility shows a current guardrails would benefit from the couple of extra inches. At present, a standard height is 31 inches, but the study proposes that be raised to the new height of 36 inches.
Why? It takes larger and the taller vehicles more into account while still protecting smaller vehicles. The key is to protect as many different types of vehicles as possible. It is tricky business, too.
Researchers found, through crash tests and the simulations, that 36 inches protected the small vehicle—the 2003 Kia Rio was used in testing—and reduced the risk of the pickup trucks mounting the guardrail and rolling over. However, the 37-inch-tall guardrails produced immensely different results.
That extra inch allowed small cars—again, the Kia Rio was used—to sneak under a guardrail and effectively be pinned underneath. That scenario could be fatal for many motorists, ensuring components don’t pierce a cabin in the event of the wreck is essential.
There is still work to be done after the latest findings, however. The computer simulations are able to prove many of a safety recommendations’ benefits, and the university will soon crash test pickup trucks to see a real-world effects of the raised guardrails on that particular type of vehicle.
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