Rare, successful crash test showcases strength of MwRSF-developed roadside barrier

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The roadside barrier developed by University of Nebraska–Lincoln researchers holds firm as a fully-loaded tractor-tanker vehicle slams into it during a Dec. 8 test. (Craig Chandler / University Communication)
The roadside barrier developed by University of Nebraska–Lincoln researchers holds firm as a fully-loaded tractor-tanker vehicle slams into it during a Dec. 8 test. (Craig Chandler / University Communication)

Midwest Roadside Safety Facility researchers conducted a rare-but-successful crash test Dec. 8 to assess a newly designed and significantly shorter concrete barrier's performance when it is contacted at 50 mph by an 80,000-pound tractor-tanker truck.

It was the first test in more than 30 years of a Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) Test Level 6 truck (one pulling a tanker and not a box trailer), and its primary purpose  was to evaluate a 62-inch tall concrete barrier that would be significantly cheaper to manufacture and install on roadways.

The tractor-trailer hit the barrier at a "worst-case scenario" angle of 15 degrees, the tanker rolled slightly over the top of the barrier and slid for about a second before the truck was uprighted and rolled on to its side. It was a result that pleased the research team.

"Overall it's an excellent containment and the barrier worked is designed to pass the criteria," said Cody Stolle, research assistant professor at MwRSF and in mechanical and materials engineering.



  • Midwest Roadside Safety Facility researchers connect cables that will allow two pickups to pull an 80,000-pound tractor-tanker truck to a speed of 50 mph.
    Midwest Roadside Safety Facility researchers connect cables that will allow two pickups to pull an 80,000-pound tractor-tanker truck to a speed of 50 mph.
  • Midwest Roadside Safety Facility researchers connect cables that will allow two pickups to pull an 80,000-pound tractor-tanker truck to a speed of 50 mph.
    Midwest Roadside Safety Facility researchers connect cables that will allow two pickups to pull an 80,000-pound tractor-tanker truck to a speed of 50 mph.
  • The front tires of the tanker are painted green and red to help researchers assess where and how the truck contacts the barrier being tested. (Craig Chandler / University Communication)
    The front tires of the tanker are painted green and red to help researchers assess where and how the truck contacts the barrier being tested. (Craig Chandler / University Communication)
  • Jim Holloway and Karla Lechtenberg work on the computer connections and camera views in a trailer rigged to record the information at the crash test site. (Craig Chandler / University Communication)
    Jim Holloway and Karla Lechtenberg work on the computer connections and camera views in a trailer rigged to record the information at the crash test site. (Craig Chandler / University Communication)
  • The cab of the truck makes the first contact with the 62-inch barrier at 50 mph. (Craig Chandler / University Communication)
    The cab of the truck makes the first contact with the 62-inch barrier at 50 mph. (Craig Chandler / University Communication)
  • The red mark on the barrier shows where the second tire on the driver's side of the tanker made contact. (Craig Chandler / University Communication)
    The red mark on the barrier shows where the second tire on the driver's side of the tanker made contact. (Craig Chandler / University Communication)
  • A short moment later, the tanker begins to roll along the top of the barrier before being uprighted and returned to the road. (Craig Chandler / University Communication)
    A short moment later, the tanker begins to roll along the top of the barrier before being uprighted and returned to the road. (Craig Chandler / University Communication)
  • Those who witnessed the test at the Outdoor Proving Grounds inspect the truck after the crash. (Craig Chandler / University Communication)
    Those who witnessed the test at the Outdoor Proving Grounds inspect the truck after the crash. (Craig Chandler / University Communication)



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