Guardrail and Barriers

Guardrail and Barriers


Roadway departure (RwD) crashes account for more than 50% of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities. There are a number of reasons a driver may leave the travel lane (e.g., an avoidance maneuver, inattention or fatigue or traveling too fast for weather or geometric conditions). Over the past few decades, different engineering countermeasures have been proposed, implemented and tested by various state and local agencies to mitigate RwD crashes. Improving median or roadside barrier design is one of the most effective countermeasures available to reduce RwD fatal crashes.

These devices suffered damage to their reputation as life savers because of some isolated unfortunate incidents, however the safety benefits beyond any doubt have been proven by numerous research studies. At this juncture, the life-saving qualities of roadside guardrails and median barriers need to be underscored.

ATSSA has a committee dedicated to the advancement of guardrails. The Association’s Guardrail Committee (member login required) works to preserve funding through the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), a federal program which dedicates funds to infrastructure safety, promote a fully funded Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and other funding opportunities, work with ATSSA chapters and members to develop and deliver government relations services at the state level, encourage members to utilize these services and educate the administration on roadway safety infrastructure.

Download the Guardrail Inspection Checklist.


SuperUser Account

Guardrails prove effective countermeasures to RwD crashes

Research shows median and roadside devices provide safety benefits to roadway users

Though they may be overlooked, guardrails are important countermeasures to mitigating fatalities and injuries that result from roadway departure (RwD) crashes, which account for more than 50 percent of all motor vehicle traffic fatalities.

While there are a number of reasons a motorist might drive off the roadway, there have been various countermeasures that have been proposed, implemented, and tested by a number of state and local agencies to mitigate the incidence and impact of RwD crashes.

Leo Krull’s truck captured by median cable barrier on Hwy. 41. Photo courtesy The Fond du Lac, Wis. Sheriff’s OfficeResearch and studies have found that improving median and roadside guardrails or barriers is one of the most effective countermeasures to reduce and mitigate RwD fatal crashes. If installed correctly, guardrail reduces fatalities and serious-injuries caused by roadway departure (RwD) crashes by 16 to 47 percent. Median barriers are extremely effective in reducing cross-median crashes with a 52 percent reduction in all fatal crashes and a 61 percent reduction in all serious-injury crashes.

Guardrail and median barrier have come under media scrutiny in recent years because of some unfortunate isolated incidents, however the benefits and life-saving qualities of these devices need tp be shared.

There are countless stories of individuals who were saved from RwD crashes by guardrail or median cable barrier, such as Leo Krull, a 63-year-old truck driver who was traveling southbound on a Wisconsin highway in 2007. Krull was involved in a collision involving trucks that was prevented by the presence of a cable median barrier.

“This accident had the potential of being horrific. Thanks to the guardrail that was installed in the median, the semitruck was unable to drift to the other side of the highway,” said Officer Jeffery Belsma from the Fond Du Lac County Sheriff’s Office. “Other drivers could have died that day if that safety feature had not been installed. Since we implemented more cable barriers, the median crossovers on this highway have dropped from 10 to zero. They are a necessity to ensuring the safety of our drivers.”

To read more information about the safety benefits of median and roadside guardrails, visit Like, comment, and share posts from the Guardrails Save Lives campaign and use the hashtag #GuardrailsSaveLives.

Previous Article Minnesota and South Carolina women’s lives saved by guardrails
Next Article FHWA issues letter to clarify eligibility process for cable barrier systems
11734 Rate this article:
Please login or register to post comments.