Roadside barrier safety

An investigation into making roadside barriers less of a hazard for motorcyclists

Research and evaluation

Content on this page still under review and approval process

 

Motorcyclist collisions with roadside barriers are relatively rare events in New Zealand and Australia, but they frequently result in serious and fatal injuries. Roadside barriers have been designed for passenger vehicle occupant safety, and not with motorcyclists in mind.

The Roadside Barrier Safety project aims provide information about motorcyclist-barrier crash test protocols that could be adopted in the Australia and New Zealand Barrier Standard, to assess and improve barrier design for motorcycling safety. This includes the assessment of various types of after-market barrier modifications and ‘motorcycling friendly’ barrier devices.

The work includes a review of data for motorcyclist-barrier crashes, and computer simulation of crashes to test different types of barriers and modifications.

Key results from the research to date include:

  • a total of 166 non-fatal and 20 fatal motorcyclist-barrier collisions occurred in New Zealand during the study period (2001 – 2013)
  • these collisions typically involved male riders, on State Highway 100km speed zone roads, on curves, in daylight and fine conditions, and with W-beam barriers
  • the sliding and upright crash postures were equally represented
  • risky riding behaviour such as alcohol or drug use and/or excessive speed were evident in 33% of non-fatal and 50% of fatal crashes
  • serious thoracic injury was sustained by all fatally injured motorcyclists, and serious head and abdominal injuries also occurred frequently
  • collisions with posts and poles were significantly more likely to result in serious or fatal injuries or barriers, which supports the deployment of barriers in front of utility poles, roadway signs and support poles to improve the safety of the roadside for motorcyclists
  • Finite Element (FE) simulations using the THUMS (total human model for safety) human body model have been developed for motorcyclists sliding into barriers in the thorax-leading and head-leading orientations, and have been shown to provide realistic simulations of these collision types
  • THUMS injury measures have been established for thoracic, head and spine injuries, for assessing the injury potential of barriers and devices.
  • Ongoing research will use simulation protocols to assess the different barrier designs, modifications and devices.

Read the latest progress report

Motorcyclist collisions with roadside barriers are relatively rare events in New Zealand and Australia, but they frequently result in serious and fatal injuries. Roadside barriers have been designed for passenger vehicle occupant safety, and not with motorcyclists in mind. This project aims provide information about motorcyclist-barrier crash test protocols that could be adopted in the Australia and New Zealand Barrier Standard, to assess and improve barrier design for motorcycling safety. This includes the assessment of various types of after-market barrier modifications and ‘motorcycling friendly’ barrier devices.