Absorbing impacts
Intertraffic World Infrastructure Road safety

Absorbing impacts

Thursday, 12 September 2019

The ideal crash barrier is not one that is rigid. Instead road authorities should look to install protection that absorbs impacts just as crumple zones do on cars, thereby reducing severity of injuries.

Working toward zero road deaths is the ambitious goal of Laura Metaal Road Safety. Its aim is to help increase road safety, decrease workzone fatalities and make roads safer for everyone.

To help achieve this, Laura Metaal has developed the SafeZone Barrier, launched in 2018. The SafeZone Barrier is the first MASH-TL4 Limited Deflection compliant temporary steel barrier system in the world. It offers superior protection, maximum performance, a small footprint and lower labor installation costs.

The importance of safety

Worldwide, an average of one person is killed in traffic, and 153 are injured, every 15 seconds. Anyone who has seen or been in a car accident can understand how the force with which a vehicle hits an object plays a major role in the injuries caused in road traffic accidents.

With passenger and commercial vehicles getting heavier, larger and longer, one can easily imagine that there is a growing need to evolve and improve current road barrier design. The Laura Metaal motto – Joining forces and working toward zero – is aimed at creating a platform to raise more awareness and to create a dialog, focused on continuously improving barrier safety.

Innovative thinking

The main purpose of road barriers is to reduce the severity of accidents and injuries. We instinctively assume that something that is strong and solid will always offer the best level of protection. However, strength in heavyweight, rigid barriers is not ideal for roadside protection, where one must consider impact force. On impact with a solid, static barrier, the colliding vehicle’s energy will not be absorbed; instead the vehicle will be redirected and deformed, thus increasing the chances of there being a serious injury or fatality.

‘Fit for force’ was the guiding principle Laura Metaal used in developing a lightweight barrier that is designed not just to resist brute force, but to smartly absorb impact energy in crash conditions, to protect vehicle users, pedestrians and road workers.

Just like crumple zones in vehicles, which improve the safety of vehicles on impact, a similar principle is being used by Laura Metaal to improve the performance of its innovative new road barriers. Meet SafeZone.

SafeZone fit for force

SafeZone offers superior protection and maximum performance. It is smartly designed to absorb high levels of impact energy within its deflection range. Its unique and patented system was tested according to the AASHTO MASH (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware) 2016 standards.

The barrier successfully passed performance tests at MASH TL-3 up to MASH TL-4 Limited Deflection. This means that SafeZone responds well to the impact velocity of a 10-ton truck traveling at 56mph (90km/h) and impacting the barrier at a 15° angle.

Rigid standard steel or reinforced concrete transmits impact forces back into the vehicle, rather than absorbing them, which is a possible risk factor for severe or hidden damages or injuries. SafeZone is built to dissolve and absorb vehicle impact forces.

It can be applied as a temporary or permanent barrier on bridges, workzones, edges of roads, as well as median barriers on highways.

The small footprint is also an important benefit. SafeZone’s simple, lightweight yet solid design means that it can also be easily transported.

The limited weight of the barrier helps to reduce fuel consumption in maintenance vehicles. In combination with its 20-year life expectancy, this leads to a considerable reduction (estimated well over 80%) in CO2 emissions as compared with concrete road barriers.

Another plus-point is the lower labor installation costs, optimally combining robustness with flexibility. SafeZone barrier elements are very easy to connect, offering ultra-quick placement, therefore reducing road workers’ unprotected exposure to live traffic and also helping to cut workzone fatalities.

153 The number of people injured in traffic accidents worldwide every 15 seconds. There will also be, on average, one fatality every 15 seconds

80% The overall reduction in CO2 emissions gained from installing a SafeZone barrier instead of a traditional concrete one, over its 20-year lifetime

Facts and figures

Key points about Laura Metaal’s SafeZone barriers

  • Smartly designed to absorb a maximum of impact energy within a built-in deflection range
  • Estimated 20-year lifespan
  • Easy connection system allows for ultra-quick placement
  • Damaged sections can easily be removed or replaced
  • The first MASH TL-4 Limited Deflection approved temporary steel barrier on the market
  • MASH TL-3 Limited Deflection
  • Lightweight: only 62 lb/ft (92kg/m)
  • Modular elements
  • 18 x 32 x 228in (46 x 81 x 579cm)


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