Featured image: Dummies used throughout the Austroads bridge crash barrier test

In a world-first, Austroads has completed crash testing on medium performance level bridge barriers and published the footage online, as part of a project to ensure bridge barriers comply with recently updated Australian standards. 

Austroads conducted a series of comprehensive crash tests involving a 36t truck, a sports utility vehicle (SUV), and a small passenger car, all colliding with a medium performance level bridge barrier, the most common type of bridge barrier across Australia and New Zealand. 

The crash test involved a world-first 90km/h test speed for an articulated truck, as compared to the 80km/h test speed required by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (AASHTO MASH). 

Prior to this crash test, no bridge barrier in the world had been tested against these modified MASH requirements.

The use of dummies that approximate the size and weight of an adult woman and a small child were also used in the crash test of the SUV, with traditional crash testing often performed using male dummies. 

The data generated by this test provides valuable insight on how high-speed crashes can affect these types of vehicle users.

This Austroads project will be updating the 2013 Austroads Standardised Bridge Barrier Design Guidelines to align with the current Australian Standard AS/(NZS) 5100: Series 2017 – Bridge Design, Australian Standard AS/(NZS) 3845: Series 2017 – Road safety barrier systems and devices and the AASHTO MASH. 

Austroads expects to release the updated guidelines, research report and webinar in 2024.

Austroads Chief Executive, Geoff Allan, said there were two main reasons for the project’s initiation. 

“Firstly, there have been changes to the Australian Standards for bridge barrier design,” Mr Allan said.

“Secondly, it was clearly important to the Austroads Board that as technology changes, as barrier design improves, that the latest standards continue to be made available to our members.

“Austroads undertakes research and provides the findings of that research to its members to be shared. Conducting these crash tests into bridge barriers is important to our members because the testing itself is proof of concept, demonstrating that it works in the real world. 

“We expect the outcomes of this project to significantly enhance bridge barrier design and maintenance practices in Australia and New Zealand.” 

For more information and to watch the footage, visit the Austroads website here.

Featured image: Dummies used throughout the Austroads bridge crash barrier test

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