Advanced science.  Applied technology.


New site available at SwRI for evaluating highway safety devices and traffic barriers

Oct. 23, 2007 -- A new crash test pad facility for evaluating the response of traffic barriers and various highway safety devices to vehicle impact is now available for use at Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®).

The crash test pad is made of concrete and is 600 feet in length and 100 feet wide. The facility is located on the SwRI grounds in a large, isolated field clear of trees, providing a secluded, secure unobstructed test area. Previously, SwRI conducted its testing at nearby Brooks City-Base.

Roadside safety devices such as crash cushions, median barriers and bridge railings are in place to prevent errant vehicles from veering into on-coming traffic or running off roads into culverts and ravines. To be placed in use, these devices must be tested to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) standards.

Heightened security since Sept. 11, 2001, has also led to design and development testing of terrorist barriers at embassies and other government facilities. These barriers must meet U.S. Department of State criteria.

"SwRI has been involved in evaluating and developing roadside safety hardware and barriers for more than 40 years," said Steve Gomez-Leon, a senior research engineer in SwRI's Structural and Mechanical Engineering Department. "This new facility enhances our capabilities and is more convenient for both our clients and our staff. The isolated location also offers greater security and confidentiality."

The test pad is available for full-scale vehicle impact tests of passenger cars and pickup trucks to study the dynamic behavior of barriers and highway appurtenances such as sign supports, guardrails and work zone devices. Large trucks up to 15,000 pounds can also be evaluated.

"Because the site is isolated, it is reflection free, lending itself to stationary as well as moving equipment noise studies," Gomez-Leon added.

SwRI also offers related crash testing and barrier services such as pendulum impact tests to evaluate materials, structures and vehicular components.

For more information contact SwRI Solutions.