Testing Roadside Safety Systems to MASH (607751)

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Problem Statement No. 2016-MN-109

Problem Statement

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) will soon be publishing an updated edition of the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) [1]. As part of this update process, AASHTO and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) developed and adopted a revised joint implementation agreement that establishes compliance dates for use of MASH hardware for new installations and full replacements on the National Highway System (NHS) that differ by hardware category. These compliance dates, as outlined in the implementation plan, are as follows:

  • December 31, 2017: W-beam barriers and cast-in-place concrete barriers
  • June 30, 2018: W-beam terminals
  • December 31, 2018: cable barriers, cable barrier terminals, and crash cushions
  • December 31, 2019: bridge rails, transitions, all other longitudinal barriers (including portable barriers installed permanently), all other terminals, sign supports, and all other breakaway hardware

Although some MASH testing of common roadside safety hardware has been performed under various research efforts, many barrier systems and other roadside safety features have yet to be evaluated. Many state DOTs are currently identifying and prioritizing their non-proprietary roadside safety devices that will require MASH testing. While some systems are unique to a specific state, some devices are widely used by states across the country (sometimes with minor variations). Identifying these common devices and pooling resources to test them will be an efficient method for achieving MASH implementation.


The objective of the study is to identify devices that are used by most/many of the Pooled Fund states, establish and prioritize the testing needs for these devices (with consideration of implementation compliance dates), and perform testing for the devices with the highest priority.


This project will benefit the Pooled Fund State DOT’s by helping them achieve MASH implementation in accordance with the adopted AASHTO/FHWA MASH Implementation Plan. Full implementation of MASH will further improve safety for motorists traveling on the NHS.


The researchers will develop a prioritized list of devices requiring MASH testing and evaluation among the partner states participating in the Roadside Safety Pooled Fund. The highest priority device will be crash tested and evaluated in accordance with MASH guidelines. A research report fully documenting the testing and evaluation of the device will be prepared and submitted. If the testing is successful, the researchers will prepare a draft request for FHWA eligibility that can be reviewed and submitted to FHWA by the project technical representative or one of the other pooled fund members.

Work Plan

The work plan for the project will consist of three tasks. Details of these three tasks are described below.

Task 1 — Identification and Prioritization of Roadside Safety Devices

The researchers will identify and prioritize existing, non-proprietary roadside safety devices that the participating state partners desire to implement under MASH. The researchers will contact each partner state to obtain their relevant standards and MASH implementation needs and plans. The selected state contact person will be asked to coordinate the MASH implementation needs within their respective agency to help ensure that all categories of roadside safety devices are adequately captured. The researchers will request that each respondent prioritize their perceived need for the various devices of interest. The research supervisor will coordinate to collect this information with the research supervisor conducting the MASH coordination project under the pooled fund program to avoid duplication of effort.

The researchers will use the information collected from the partner states to develop a list of prioritized roadside safety devices across the entire pooled fund group that require testing and evaluation under MASH. Consideration will be given to factors such as number of states using the device (or similar device), relative frequency of use within those states, and the MASH implementation dates.

The prioritized list of roadside safety devices will be shared with the partner states for their review and concurrence. The prioritized list will then be used to guide the selection of the roadside safety device that will be crash tested under Task 2. If the testing cost associated with the highest priority device exceeds the allocated testing budget under this project, this will be modified to add additional funding to cover the testing costs, or the next highest priority device will be selected.

Task 2 — Full-Scale Crash Testing of Highest Priority Device(s)

The researchers will construct, test and evaluate the selected roadside safety device in accordance with MASH impact performance guidelines. Test installation drawings will be prepared and submitted to the technical representative for review and approval. Upon approval of the test installation drawings, a prototype installation will be constructed for testing and evaluation. The full-scale crash testing will be performed at the TTI Proving Ground according to TTI Proving Ground quality procedures, and according to the MASH guidelines and standards. The TTI Proving Ground is an International Standards Organization (ISO) 17025-accredited laboratory.

Since the device being tested will not be known until the completion of Task 1, the required test matrix and associated installation and testing cost is not known at this time. Therefore, for budgeting purposes, two full-scale crash tests have been planned under this task: one test with a MASH 2270P pickup truck, and one test with a MASH 1100C passenger car. The budgeted installation cost was developed based on a typical strong post W-beam guardrail system. It is understood that the required test matrix and installation cost may vary depending on the device selected for testing. If the test vehicles and/or installation cost for the selected device differ from the estimated budget, the project will need to be modified to reflect costs associated with the approved test plan.

Task 3 — Preparation and Submission of Project Deliverables

The researchers will prepare a draft research report fully documenting the testing and evaluation of the selected roadside safety device following the reporting recommendations of MASH. The draft report will be submitted to the technical representative for review and approval. The researchers will address any comments received from the technical representative and will post the final report on the Roadside Safety Pooled Fund website.

If the full-scale crash testing is successful and it is concluded the roadside safety device complies with MASH criteria, the researchers will prepare a draft request for FHWA eligibility that can be reviewed and submitted to FHWA by the project technical representative or one of the other pooled fund members.

TTI Research Supervisor:
Roger P. Bligh, Ph.D., P.E.
Senior Research Engineer
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
3135 TAMU
College Station, Texas 77843-3135
(979) 845-4377
[email protected]
Pooled Fund Technical Representative:
Michael Elle, P.E.
Design Standards Engineer
Minnesota Department of Transportation
395 John Ireland Blvd, M.S. 696
St. Paul, MN 55155-1899
(651) 366-4622
[email protected]


  1. American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware, AASHTO Subcommittee on Bridges and Structures, Washington, D.C., 2009.