Research in the Roadside Safety Program involves identifying, analyzing, and developing solutions for roadside safety problems with the goal of reducing the tremendous loss of life that occurs on our nation’s highways each year as a result of roadside accidents. Specific research activities include the design, analysis, testing, and evaluation of roadside safety structures, and the development of guidelines for the use, selection, and placement of these structures. Innovative safety devices designed by TTI researchers are in use worldwide and are saving lives on a daily basis. Roadside safety structures addressed by the program include guardrails, bridge rails, median barriers, transitions, end treatments, crash cushions, breakaway support structures, and work zone traffic control devices.
Today’s simulation technology now permits accurate modeling of vehicle interactions with roadside safety devices on the computer. The Roadside Safety Program works closely with the Center of Excellence in Transportation Computational Mechanics in applying state-of-the-art analytical tools such as LS-DYNA to roadside safety problems. Researchers have access to a vast array of high-speed computing facilities that enable large, detailed simulations to be run in a short time period. Sophisticated finite element models of vehicles and roadside safety hardware are used to conduct virtual crash tests to evaluate impact performance, assess design alternatives, and perform design optimization in a predictive manner. Use of these sophisticated analysis tools provides an enhanced understanding of crash dynamics that enables researchers to design better, more cost-effective safety hardware at a lower cost to the sponsor.
Research within the Roadside Safety Program also addresses the influence of roadside geometric features such as driveways, slopes, ditches, shoulders, and medians on the safety of vehicles encroaching into the roadside environment. Researchers perform clinical analysis of real-world crash data and use sophisticated computer simulation codes to better understand the nature and severity of roadside crashes, evaluate countermeasures, and develop design guidelines. Researchers have drafted or are currently developing safety guidelines for roads in such areas as median barrier warrants, clear zones, slope rounding, and driveway slopes and spacing. Benefit/cost analysis is used to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of safety alternatives with consideration given to various traffic, roadway, roadside, and vehicle characteristics.
Researchers in the Roadside Safety Program have extensive expertise in the following areas:
- finite element analysis,
- structural analysis,
- structural design,
- vehicle dynamics,
- roadside structures,
- highway safety,
- dynamic structural analysis,
- bridge engineering,
- transportation safety, and
- design and evaluation of roadside safety appurtenances.
Researchers in the Roadside Safety Program partner with federal and state agencies, other universities and research institutes, and industry on research and development projects. These agencies include:
- the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA),
- the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO),
- the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP),
- the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), and
- other state departments of transportation.
For More InformationRoger Bligh, Ph.D., PE
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Texas A&M University System
3100 State Highway 47
College Station, TX 77843
(979) 317-2703 x42703