Industry Best Practices

New Crash-Testing Standards for Roadside Safety Hardware: What You Need to Know

Posted by Therese Busch on Jan 13, 2016 12:00:00 PM
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We’re only a couple of weeks into the New Year, but transportation officials aren’t wasting any time in implementing positive safety changes for America’s highways.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has approved a timeline for installing roadside safety equipment, including attenuator trucks, on the National Highway System that meet new crash-testing standards.

Before we discuss the timeline of these new safety standards, let’s take a moment to understand where this change is stemming from. AASHTO has developed a Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware, known as MASH. This manual lists crash-testing guidelines for both permanent and temporary highway safety equipment, plus criteria to evaluate crash test results. AASHTO is updating its manual in 2016, and this update is spurring new regulations.

AASHTO’s executive director, Bud Wright, has explained that new regulations for roadside safety equipment are needed because America’s motor vehicles have changed. Generally, bumper heights are higher and vehicles have gotten larger. Roadside safety hardware must evolve to meet these changes, in order to keep motorists safe.

Now that you know who’s behind the new regulations, what does AASHTO’s MASH schedule include? It lists deadlines by which only safety equipment that meets the standards of the updated MASH manual will be allowed on the National Highway System. These deadlines affect everything from concrete barriers to bridge rails.

Most notably, after December 31, 2018, crash cushions used on the National Highway System must be evaluated using the new MASH standards.

TMA Trucks with Scorpion Attenuator and Yellow Racks

So, what does this mean for your company? Federal law already requires you to have TMA trucks (also known as crash trucks, attenuator trucks, or crash cushions) in your work zones if you perform construction on federal highways. However, by the end of 2018, your attenuators must meet MASH’s updated crash standards.

The exact details of the new standards haven’t been published by AASHTO yet, but you can monitor AASHTO’s website for updates. You can also visit the US government’s Federal Register to get contact information of Federal Highway Administration officials who can tell you more about the MASH transition.

Although 2018 seems far away, don’t wait until the last minute to ensure that your attenuator trucks meet MASH’s new standards. AASHTO is especially urging state and local transportation agencies to upgrade their equipment to comply. If your TMA trucks become damaged in the next year or two, that may provide a great opportunity to update your equipment to the new standards.

Let us know what you think of AASHTO’s new safety standards in the comments section below!

Topics: Work Zone Safety, tma safety, industry regulations, compliance