UNL researchers conduct rare crash test for new roadside barrier

Testing New Roadside Barriers
Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 7:55 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -For a decade, UNL researchers and engineers teamed up with the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility to design a new roadside barrier. The newly designed barrier was created to keep large tanker trucks upright on roads and prevent major damage during a crash.

The 62-inch barrier was placed in a rare test against an 80,000-pound truck at the Lincoln Municipal Airport. Cody Stolle, a research assistant professor at UNL, works with MwRSF as an assistant director.

“This type of crash test has not been conducted in more than 30 years,” Stolle said.

The new barrier was created for the tank to roll over it, but keep tanker trucks upright on the road. This prevents them from going over the barrier’s side and rupturing the tank, which causes large roadway spills.

“Tractor trailer impacts with this type of vehicle are rare, but when they occur, they can have catastrophic outcomes,” Stolle said.

According to Stolle, current barriers that are made to catch large tanker trucks are very expensive. They can cost up to $200 per linear foot. The design of the new barrier would cost at least two times less.

“As a result, there hasn’t been a lot of effort or development toward creating a system for the very high containment type of a vehicle,” Stolle said.

Graduates from UNL’s engineering department helped design the new cost-effective barrier. They attended the test, being able to witness their hard work.

“You put years of work into this, tons of studying, modeling, research and calculations,” said Dean Whitfield, a UNL graduate and structural engineer at Wilson and Company. “To see it work as well as it did is pretty cool.”

Stolle said they will be reviewing the outcomes of Wednesday’s test. After review, they will move on to the next phase of the design project and work to improve the structure of the barrier.

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