Assessment of Median Barriers

Over the last 10 years passenger cars have become smaller, and the percentage of smaller cars in the traffic stream nation-wide, has increased dramatically, while trucks have become heavier and longer. Median barriers, like most other roadside hardware, were developed and installed before these changes in traffic composition started. Concern has been expressed that current median barriers used on the nation's highways may prove to be inadequate and that this fact may lead to higher severity rates of injuries and fatalities. Based on an extensive literature review the following recommendations are made:

The fleet size composition of passenger cars and the weight size range of heavy vehicles using the highway system has changed over the last 10 years. However, without specifics regarding individual site configuration and corresponding accident data, it is not possible to generalize what action should be taken on a state-wide basis. Obviously, action may be needed after due evaluation of a specific site based on cross median accident data.

  1. Crash tests have shown that the New Jersey type and configuration 'F' type of concrete median barriers are capable of dealing with a wide range of vehicles and are recommended for adoption in the future in sections that may have obsolete barriers and are in need of replacement, on a case-by-case basis.
  2. Inexpensive modifications to existing median barriers and adoption of new proven methods such as the SERB (Self-Restoring Traffic Barrier), may be considered when appropriate and warranted, on a case-by-case basis.
Publication Date: 
Saturday, November 1, 1986
Publication Number: 
WA-RD 096.1
Last modified: 
10/12/2016 - 15:41
C. Jotin Khisty.
Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC)
Number of Pages: 
Accident severity, Compact automobiles, Fatalities, Injuries, Impact tests, Median barriers, Recommendations, Technology assessment, Transportation safety, Trucks.