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Current topics concerning highway equipment

Practical solutions to improve road safety

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Every day different objects of highway equipment provide an essential contribution to road safety. Therefore, their functionality during the permanent as well as temporary use has to be ensured throughout their entire time of use. At the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt), section Highway Equipment, these challenges are met in internal and external research projects. Currently several research projects have been launched which deal i.a. with life cycle costs of safety barriers, the safety effects of road markings as well as safety aspects of safety barriers under the impact of motorcyclists. These various research projects focus on the development of practical solutions to improve road safety. To implement the new research results into practice, there is a close contact and technical exchange with federal road authorities.

In this context for example a new guideline for special-purpose solutions to protect cars from impacts on trees and other obstacles at rural roads has been prepared, in which instructions for a preventative installation of safety barriers within narrow boundaries are given. The guideline is published on the website of BASt.

This guideline provides the federal road authorities for the first time with precise suggestions how to safeguard trees especially in confined spaces. The corresponding example sheets, showing possible solutions, are frequently updated to add new innovative and positively tested products.

A similar procedure is followed in other fields of highway equipment, where BASt is continuously dealing with the further developments in the product market, the adaptation of testing methods as well as the development of new guidelines. Their elaboration, however, is taking place in the difficult context of the compatibility of national and European interests. Currently almost all European standards concerning highway equipment are in a revision process with significant participation of BASt.

The Testing Laboratory for Highway Equipment which has been accredited by the Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle GmbH (DAkkS) is also part of the section Highway Equipment of BASt. Here, regular testing of various items of highway equipment is carried out by order of third parties. Especially the turntable road-marking test system (RPA), where road marking systems are tested in respect of visibility, durability and grip characteristics according to European standards, has to be mentioned in this context. In 2017 about 150 road marking systems produced by 32 different manufacturers from home and abroad were tested.

Concerning the topic automated driving road markings are going to play an important role in the future. That is why BASt will put a special focus on this topic in 2018 in internal as well as external research projects.