Roads and highways should be designed and constructed in a way that they ensure and guarantee safe, effective, convenient and efficient transportation. Road safety systems like Road Barriers are described as vehicle protection systems which are specially designed to protect vehicles from roadside hazards, and thereby redirecting errant vehicles in a safe manner as well as providing high levels of safety during and after impact. TrafficInfraTech explores in-depth the benefits of Road Safety Barriers
Road Safety Barriers have been understood differently with different definitions in countries. In countries like Norway, a road barrier is defined as an operational, technical and organisational structure to prevent unwanted and dangerous situations. While in other countries, the safety road barrier is defined as a measure to reduce the possibility of dangerous accidents, thereby reducing the consequences. Whatever the reason, the main purpose of the road barriers is to protect and prevent serious vehicle crashes and accidents on the roads.
These barriers come in different sizes, shapes and weights depending on the application. So, when choosing a proper road barrier, ensure that you have the right safety barrier in terms of design and intended purpose.
How good are Road Barriers?
Barriers can be flexible and semi-rigid, and there is no general rule or guideline as to which one is better. Road Safety Barriers or Crash Barriers are provided on high speed highways to prevent accidents when vehicles lose control and run off the road. Especially dangerous are road sections with sharp curves, approaches to bridges with restricted roadway, high embankments, and hazardous obstacles such as poles, trees and bridge structural elements. Studies have also shown that if suitably designed and properly located, it is possible to redirect the vehicle nearly parallel to the direction of the barrier within tolerable limits. The forces experienced by the vehicle occupants are minimised and thereby reducing the severity of the accident and damage to property.
The important road safety products that can go a long way in reducing the fatalities are performance based and tested road safety barriers. However, there is a lot to be done by the enforcement authorities and system providers in India to create better awareness on the need and importance of good quality road barriers in all roads.
Raman Sharma, Managing Director, Came India Automation Solutions Pvt Ltd, said, “In country like India, safety & security have always been major problem areas. A strategy should be made such that the enforcement authorities should work together with the security system providers in India (consisting of both Indian and foreign based companies) with the support and guidance of the Ministry of Home Affairs, under which the enforcement authorities functions. The joint team of enforcement authorities and system providers can use its strength and make it a successful campaign. Improving the security of roads with the help of road barriers will help provide security to commercial transports. This in turn would help boost investors’ sentiments in India.”
The government has provided increased budgetary allocations for projects in the highway sector and has also undertaken major initiatives in high-density corridors. But in India, price consciousness is major non-driving factor creating repulsion in end-users. And hence, there is a common tendency in compare security needs with the cost involved. Apart from pricing there are several other factors which are creating negative impact on the growth and awareness of Indian security industry like;
• High dependence on imports since domestic production is low and concentrated in low-end, basic products, primarily because most Indian firms have small -scale operations and limited technological expertise
• Disorganised Industry
• Lack of unawareness and attitude towards security
“India has a dubious distinction of having the highest fatalities on Indian roads but at the same time, it has the biggest national, state and rural road development programme in the world. India is building highways and expressways and creating a huge national asset but these national assets lack a foresight particularly in terms of making them safe for the road users”, said, V R K Eshwaran, Director & General Manager – Business Development, Hill & Smith Infrastructure Products India Pvt Ltd, the manufacturers of Wire Rope Safety Barrier in India.
Choosing the right Road Safety Barriers
The first thing to consider when choosing road safety barriers is the recognition of the danger, the awareness that something needs to be done. Just understanding the risk and doing nothing is not enough. However, the decision making about which safety road barriers to choose depends mostly on the type of the road, and the material from which the road safety barriers are made. In India, we still have primitive barriers installed on Indian highways. These barriers are just physical barriers but in terms of performance, they do not live up to the purpose for which they have been installed. They work satisfactorily in low speed situations but on expressways, one needs real performing barriers. In one of the past issues of TrafficInfraTech (April-May 2013, pg 90), Rajaram Subramaniam, COO, Metalmeccanica Fracasso India Pvt Ltd, explained how a crash tested barrier can reduce accidents dramatically and also prevent vaulting over of vehicles completely.
Road safety involves following basic safety rules and using appropriate safety barriers. The most important things to consider when choosing a proper barrier are the cost and the benefits. Yet there are other things that need to be considered as well:
• Identifying Hazards: Hazards are identified when the crash history, speeds, traffic volume, road geometry, clear zone, surface condition, and the roadside topography are being considered. The strongest indication of hazard situation is a large accident history. This means that there is a strong need for road safety barriers.
• Evaluation and Selection of Options: Generally, the evaluation includes both qualitative and quantitative aspects. The latter includes a quantitative risk assessment and an economical analysis, while taking into account the possibility of a vehicle encroaching into the road, the severity of crashes and all social costs related to the encroachments. Qualitative evaluation involves engineering and environmental consideration and a subjective risk assessment.