Summer Institute 2012: Roadside Safety in the Classroom


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Mid-America Transportation Center
Summer Institute 2012
Presented by David Gutierrez, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Midwest Roadside Safety Facility

Published in: Automotive, Technology, Business
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  • Dr. Edward R. Post left the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) of Texas A&M University to join the Civil Engineering Faculty in Lincoln, NE. One of the components of TTI is testing roadside safety equipment, so Dr. Post introduced that idea to UNL upon his arrival.Started as a very small research program sponsored by local government agencies, such as Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR).In the mid- to late 1980s, they gained the support of a few State highway agencies as well as the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL).Then in 1990 in order to gain a better identity, the research group named itself Midwest Roadside Safety Facility.Next, a few midwestern states recognized the need for improved roadside safety equipment. Later, the concept of State Department of Transportations annually funding a research group for the improvement of roadside safety equipment was conceived. As a result of this idea, UNL teamed up with the DOTs of Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri to form the Midwest State’s Regional Pooled Fund Program. This Pooled Fund program has continued to grow over the years and the program now has thirteen states from both coasts and areas in between.While the research program was beginning to break ground and really take off, MwRSF suffered a loss with the passing of its director Dr. Post in the spring of 1991. This resulted in the search of a new director to lead the group into the future.The hiring of the new director, Dr. Sicking came in 1992 also from TTI. This hiring led to a new focus for MwRSF and it began to emerge as an international leader in the development of new roadside safety hardware instead of strictly testing standard hardware.
  • The main sponsors of the research that MwRSF does are the State DOTs (mostly through the Pooled Fund Program), the Federal Highway Administration, some private industries, and the Motorsport Industries.
  • That is around 12,000 run off road accidents and fatalities. That is the area that we focus on reducing through our research. If we can reduce that number by improving roadside safety hardware, then we can view our research as successful.
  • While these numbers are great and we are happy for the improvement of roadside safety equipment and reduction of fatalities per vehicle mile, I think I can speak for everyone at Midwest when I say that we wont be satisfied until there are no fatalities due to run off road accidents. That’s why we do this research and will continue to do this research well into the future.
  • Basically anything you see on the side of the road or in the median is something that MwRSF could test for driver safety
  • If a test passes all of these criteria, the test can pass. If a test fails one of these categories, the test will fail overall.
  • MASH is the Manual for Assessing of Safety Hardware and it sets the parameters and limits that we must pass in order for test to be deemed a success. For the cable median barrier to be passed for implementation, we must test the system in several different locations in the V-ditch. This picture is a picture of the original design with the brackets to hold the cables. The design was not considered sufficient and has been redesigned to use a keyway system to hold and release the cables. The design has yet to be perfected and research continues to find the best design.
  • With this system, there have been 7 tests:The first test was the video that we just watched with the bracket system to hold and release the cables. It was tested with our pickup test vehicle and passed.The second test was also with the bracket system, but with the small car test vehicle and the system failedThe third test was also with the bracket system and with the small car test vehicle and the system again failed.The fourth test was with the new keyway bolt design with the small car test vehicle, and the system passed.The fifth test was with the keyway bolt with the pickup test vehicle, and the system failed.The sixth test was the first video that we saw with the sedan test vehicle with the keyway bolt on level terrain, but the test failed.There was a seventh test at TTI with the keyway bolt with the small car test vehicle and it failed.Research into this cable median barrier system continues. The keyway bolt is being redesigned and used in component tests in attempt to find the optimal design.Research has been shifted to the 6:1 V-ditch because they want to find a successful system in the less stringent/critical ditch first.
  • This system was very successful for the large sedan in the early 1960s and worked successfully for over a quarter of a century.However, with the evolution of the vehicle fleet and the movement toward larger SUV type of vehicles, MwRSF found it worthy of conducting research into redesign of this standard system
  • These higher center of gravity vehicles had a tendency toward override of the system or forcing a rail rupture.
  • The goal of the redesign to the standard w-beam guardrail was to develop a non-proprietary w-beam guardrail system in order to make it available to all states.They also wanted to eliminate the weaknesses of the standard w-beam guardrail with their redesign.The increase of the rail height helped to capture the larger center of gravity vehicles and to lower the embedment depth to keep the system from being too stiff.The increase of the blockout depth prevented the vehicle from contacting the posts for a longer period of time to prevent snagging on the posts. The movement of the rail splices away from the posts helped to prevent rupture of the rail because they were no longer at the point of the most force.
  • Another important part of what we do at MwRSF is computer simulations. We don’t only do full-scale testing of systems. We do quite a bit of computer simulations.These simulations are helpful for several different reasons.
  • Subsequently, the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility, sponsored by IMS and IRL, and later joined by NASCAR, was asked to develop a new high-speed crash barrier that would improve the crash performance over existing systems for both 2,000-lb open wheel and 3,600-lb stock car vehicles. The development effort was to proceed using the target impact conditions which ranged between 120 and 150 mph and 20 to 25 degrees. These conditions were based on information obtained from real-world crash events as well as guidance from both the IRL and NASCAR.Design considerations for this new barrier included that the new barrier must: be capable of reducing lateral decelerations without significantly increasing longitudinal decelerations as a result of vehicle gouging and snag into the barrier be modular in design in order to increase constructability not require significant down time for making repairs following a crash event remain intact following an extreme crash event and not result in debris scattered across the track
  • Summer Institute 2012: Roadside Safety in the Classroom

    1. 1. Roadside Safety in the ClassroomDavid Gutierrez, B.S.C.E., E.I.T.Graduate Research AssistantMidwest Roadside Safety FacilityUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnJune 13, 2012
    2. 2. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityHistory 1974 – Started at UNL by Dr. Edward R. Post 1990 – Officially named Midwest Roadside Safety Facility (MwRSF) Formation of the Midwest State’s Regional Pooled Fund Program 1992 – New Director, Dr. Dean Sicking
    3. 3. Midwest Roadside Safety Facility Midwest Roadside Safety Facility Internationally-known research facility Expertise in roadside and motorsports safety Part of Nebraska Transportation Center - UNL MwRSF staff  3 faculty (2 academic & 1 research)  4 engineers & 2 post-doctorial  4 research/technical staff & 1 office manager  9 graduate & 14 undergraduate students
    4. 4. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilitySponsors• State DOTs• FHWA• Private industry• Motorsports organizations
    5. 5. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityWhy is Roadside Safety Important? Approximately 40,000 vehicle accident fatalities per year 30% of these involve run off road accidents Estimated cost have reached well over $50 billion annually
    6. 6. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityRoadside Safety is Working For the past 40 years the number of fatalities per year has remained nearly the same  Vehicle traffic has increased 2.5 times  Fatalities per vehicle mile has decreased by ½ Due to increases in roadside safety and vehicle safety as well as roadway geometrics
    7. 7. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityRoadside Safety Devices Types of Devices  End terminals and crash cushions  Flexible barriers (i.e. cable systems)  Semi-rigid barriers (i.e. guardrail systems)  Rigid barriers (i.e. concrete bridge rails)  Race track safety  Portable and permanent signs  Poles
    8. 8. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityEvaluation Criteria Structural adequacy  Vehicle must be brought to a controlled stop or redirected back toward roadway Vehicle trajectory  Cannot touch ground behind barrier  Vehicle must remain upright (no rollover) Occupant safety requirements  Occupant deceleration limits  Occupant compartment integrity
    9. 9. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityCable Median Barrier Purpose: Develop a cable median barrier to be used in a 4:1 V-ditch to prevent vehicles from crossing over into oncoming traffic MASH testing required in several locations
    10. 10. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityResearch Continues 7 tests  3 with original bracket  4 with keyway bolt Research on keyway bolt continues Research shifted to 6:1 V-ditch
    11. 11. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityStandard W-Beam Guardrail Designed in early 1960’s for large sedans Top mounting height – 27 5/8 in. 6-ft 3-in. post spacing 8 in. blockouts Worked for over a quarter century
    12. 12. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityW-Beam Guardrail Weaknesses Vehicles with high centers of gravity Installation height sensitivity Rail ruptures
    13. 13. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityMidwest Guardrail System (MGS) Design Top rail height raised over 3 in. (from 27 5/8 in. to 31 in.)Blockout depth increased (from 8 in. to 12 in.)Rail splices moved to midspans
    14. 14. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityMGS Applications On flat ground Behind a curb Over a low-fill culvert With 5:1 flare Attached to approach guardrail transition On a slope Without blockouts On a MSE wall With wood posts
    15. 15. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityComputer Simulations Used for analysis and prediction of complex physical events Reduction of tests Prototype simulation Finite Element Analysis with LS- DYNA
    16. 16. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityMotorsports Needs High-speed oval track racing Vehicle containment provided by concrete walls Serious driver injuries and fatalities an issue Need for improved safety
    17. 17. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityRacing = Dangerous Impacts 6 to 10 times more severe than highway impacts
    18. 18. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityResearch Objective/Design Considerations • Improve safety for high-energy crashes into containment walls  120–150 mph & 20-25 degrees • Design  Extend impact event, absorb kinetic energy, lower impact forces  Reduce vehicle decelerations • Sponsored by IMS, IRL, and NASCAR
    19. 19. Midwest Roadside Safety Facility Steel And Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) BarrierSteel Tubular Panel Trapezoid Foam Blocks Nylon Straps
    20. 20. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityResults - NASCAR Testing Peak Upper Peak Peak Impact Neck Barrier Longitudinal Lateral Severity Force HIC Feature Deceleration Deceleration (kip-ft)a b b Along (G’s) (G’s) Z-Axis (N) Curved Concrete 436.45 46.13 80.12 6,310 4122 Wall Curved 25.32 70.20 1,738 971 SAFER 436.53 Barrier (-45%) (-12%) (-72%) (-76%)
    21. 21. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityResults - IRL Testing
    22. 22. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityDifferent Applications of SAFER Barrier SAFER emergency gate SAFER Barrier with alternative backup structure SAFER Barrier on Portable Concrete Barriers (PCB)
    23. 23. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityKey Concepts Math (calculus for AP credit if possible) Chemistry (physical/chemical properties) Physics (forces, moments, gravitational forces, energy, pressure) Drafting (AutoCAD, SolidWorks) Computer literacy Technical report writing
    24. 24. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityKey Concepts Presentation skills (public speaking) Working in teams Creativity Be aware of environmental impacts
    25. 25. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityCurriculum Ideas SAFER Barriers Computer activities  Drafting  Computer simulation games Newton’s law activities (F=ma) Point load vs. distributed load (penny boat activity) Put a budget on projects
    26. 26. Midwest Roadside Safety FacilityCurriculum Ideas Work in teams Make students present their ideas Question their ideas  Why does/doesn’t this work?  If you could redesign it, what would you change?  Why did you choose to do it this way?  Is there a better/cheaper way?