The National Academies

NCHRP 22-33 [Active]

Multi-State In-Service Performance Evaluations of Roadside Safety Hardware

  Project Data
Funds: $650,000
Staff Responsibility: David M. Jared
Research Agency: RoadSafe LLC
Principal Investigator: Dr. Christine E. Carrigan
Effective Date: 1/2/2018
Completion Date: 5/2/2021

Each year, roadway departure crashes in the United States result in serious injuries and fatalities. Between 2012-2014, the average number of fatalities per year resulting from roadway departure crashes was 18,355. (Source: Fatal Analysis Reporting System, NHTSA). Roadside safety hardware (e.g., guardrail, bridge rail, crash cushion, etc.) is installed along the roadways to reduce the risk of serious and fatal injuries to motorists in advertent road departures. Impact performance criteria for roadside hardware are detailed in the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH), based on full scale crash testing. MASH prescribes a set of specific crash tests that are limited to frontal crashes of cars, light trucks, and selected heavy vehicles. The tests are conducted under ideal site conditions (e.g., non-sloped surfaces, idealized soils for post embedment, installation by expert installers, and carefully controlled impact conditions). MASH tests represent only a fraction of the potential types of crashes and site conditions which motorists may experience in the field. While an important means of checking impact performance, the tests are limited in what they can tell us about field performance where vehicles and occupants experience a broad range of site, impact, and field conditions. From the time NCHRP Report 230 was published in 1981 to the current testing guidelines in MASH, in-service evaluation has been recommended as the final step in evaluating roadside hardware. NCHRP Report 490, published in 2003, provided detailed procedures and guidelines for performing in-service evaluations of roadside safety hardware. Although the roadside safety community has agreed for three decades about the importance of in-service evaluations, and procedures have been available for nearly a decade, relatively few in-service performance evaluations (ISPE) have been completed. The evaluations and role in making decisions about roadside safety is not well defined. Those that have been conducted were by states in isolation from one another. A standardized methodology is needed to allow states to perform both multi-state and nationally compatible individual ISPEs to evaluate the performance of roadside safety hardware currently in service on the nation’s highway system. Results of this research will enable transportation agencies to set and evaluate their level of safety risk and use quantitative information in the decision-making process.
The objective of this research is to develop a unified format and national compatible ISPE methodology employing various individual state database parameters. The implementation of the methodology shall include an electronic tool, guidance document, and training for performing an ISPE on roadside safety hardware devices either by a corridor or system type analysis.
The results of the developed ISPE methodology shall be demonstrated and verified by a pilot effort, which shall include hosting a workshop and post workshop technical support to selected states. The workshop will provide a pilot implementation training program and training materials to demonstrate the new protocol and identify any common issues and challenges of conducting a multi-state ISPE on selected roadside safety hardware devices for state transportation agencies, such as but not limited to various data parameters, limitations and measures of effectiveness.
The guidance is intended for use by state transportation agency officials. The research should build upon previous work, provide guidance, and address the opportunities, challenges, institutional barriers, and associated costs of a state and a multi-state ISPE.

A kick-off web-teleconference of the research team and NCHRP shall be scheduled within 1 month of the contract’s execution. The work plan should be divided into two phases, with each task described in detail. Phase 1 will produce an interim report and consist of, at a minimum: (1) an outline of the unified format and national compatible ISPE methodology; (2) beta-version of the proposed electronic tool including the data dictionary, data collection and format requirements; (3) outline of the guidance document; (4) framework of the training materials; (5) synopsis of current best practices and institutional barriers; and (6) proposed workshop including content, budget, logistics and identified pilot states. No less than eight states shall be identified to participate in the workshop. 
The research team is responsible for all workshop logistics, invitee travel and accommodation arrangements, and meeting venue location. Travel and per diem support shall be provided to all identified pilot states. Identified pilot states should include at a minimum, representation from all four AASHTO regions. The interim report will describe the work completed in the Phase 1 tasks and provide an updated work plan for the Phase 2 tasks including the workshop to complete the project objectives. The updated Phase 2 work plan should address the manner in which the proposer intends to use the information developed in Phase 1 to satisfy the project objective. Submission of the Phase 1 report will be followed by a face-to-face meeting with NCHRP and the project panel. No work shall be performed on Phase 2 without NCHRP approval. The workshop shall occur in Phase 2.

At the completion of Phase 2, the final deliverables at a minimum shall include:

1. A final report documenting the entire project that also includes an executive summary and the research team’s recommendation of research needs and priorities for related research.
2. A stand-alone, comprehensive collaborative-approach guidance document for performing a multi-state ISPE of Roadside Safety Hardware including the associated electronic tool.
3. Training materials.
4. An electronic or PowerPoint presentation describing the project background, objective, research method, findings, and guidelines that summarizes the project and that can be tailored for specific audiences.
5. A webinar on the results of the research and the deliverables.
6. Recommendations for additional future refinements of the electronic tool based on the research results, including content, budget, and program requirements.
7. A stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”. Proposers may recommend additional deliverables to support the project objective.
STATUS: Research in progress.

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