Road construction work is dangerous. It changes driving patterns, which is especially hazardous if drivers are impaired or distracted. There have been several teams of researchers and manufacturers that are attempting to make road construction safer for contractors, like this autonomous TMA truck from Royal Truck & Equipment and this smart safety vest designed by engineers at Virginia Tech, which gives workers a few seconds of warning is an object is approaching too quickly.
Pueblo, Colorado is testing out a new technology that could also make drivers’ and workers’ lives safer, while also making things easier. Steel construction barriers are making waves in Pueblo, according to local news channel KOAA, as they have demonstrated to be a safer alternative to concrete barriers, currently seen throughout the United States. When a vehicle strikes concrete, the car and the concrete are both destroyed, sending metal and concrete through the air and a wrecked car bouncing on the road asking for other cars to hit it. With these steel barriers, cars will bounce off of the barriers with little damage to the vehicle or the barrier, as you can see in the video below.
KOAA interviewed John Volk with Dynamic Deflections, a distributor of steel barriers in Colorado. Volk said that not only will the steel barriers cause less damage, they are also much easier to ship and are easier to install. One truckload of steel barriers, he says, is equal to the amount of concrete barriers that would require six truckloads. Concrete barriers are also extremely cumbersome to move, requiring the use of heavy construction machinery. The steel barriers are equipped with wheels, which can be ratcheted down and easily moved by only one person.
The major drawback to the steel construction barriers is cost, which is estimated at around 4 times the cost of concrete. Volk believes that federal regulations will soon change to require steel barriers, but there’s currently no timeline for when or if that will happen.
Take a look at the video below, by HighwayCareInt, which shows a comparison between the BarrierGuard 800 steel barrier and a traditional concrete barrier: