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TRB, AASHTO hold joint committee meeting on roadside safety

AASHTO considering converting MASH to performance specifications

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) Roadside Safety Design Committee and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Technical Committee on Roadside Safety met Monday with a focus on implementation and updates for the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH).

AASHTO announced that it is working on a scoping project intended to determine the effort it needs to invest to convert MASH into a set of performance specifications, said ATSSA Vice President of Member Services Donna Clark.

Clark, Director of Innovation & Technical Services Eric Perry, and Training Program Manager Jessica Scheyder took part in TRB’s virtual summer conference, which covers a broad range of topics and continues through Aug. 13.

The AASHTO MASH project would include determining the tasks needed to complete the conversion of MASH to a specification, additional research needed, the estimated cost, and an estimated timeline to complete the conversion.  ATSSA staff asked to be part of the review panel for this effort.

Other key points from Monday’s meeting include the following.

  • Information was presented on the latest research efforts in roadside safety with a focus on potential changes to the vehicle fleet, impact conditions, and encroachment conditions in work zones.
  • Longtime industry expert Nick Artimovich spoke about the potential of testing families of devices rather than testing each configuration as currently stated in the MASH standards.  Artimovich laid out benefits of this common-sense approach including cost savings for the industry (both departments of transportation [DOTs] and manufacturers) and reducing time to market for new devices within the “family.”  AASHTO staff mentioned it will be releasing additional Q & As in a few weeks with a more detailed Q & A coming out in a few months.
  • Preliminary research was provided showing testing of a Type III Barricade passing both a small car and pickup truck at zero-degree and 90-degree angles.
  • Representatives from six states participated in a panel discussion about the difficulties DOTs are facing when trying to implement MASH. One concern was the lack of consistency from state to  state in how devices are approved. Panelists discussed the struggle to implement an in-service performance review because of limited manpower, inexperienced staff, and the overall cost to manage a program.  Additionally, one panel member noted there remains a lack of MASH-tested traffic control devices.
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