Roadway Safety Innovation

Innovation in the roadway safety industry

Outsiders of the transportation infrastructure industry may look to autonomous vehicles as an icon of innovation on the roadways, but for state Department of Transportation (DOT) officials, manufacturers, suppliers, and contractors in the roadway safety and infrastructure industry, innovation is not a stationary achievement. It is much more than a mile marker and not as easily defined.

With different perspectives and priorities, industry stakeholders are finding that in addition to new technologies, innovation is heavily reliant on communication between entities. Industry leaders are working together to move forward and ATSSA is no different. The association works year-round to progress and develop creative solutions for all of its initiatives including highlighting innovative products and technologies, training, and ATSSA membership.

One innovative effort ATSSA is involved in is a joint initiative with the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Standing Committee on Traffic Control Devices (AHB50). Both ATSSA and TRB sponsor and conduct an exciting design competition, the Traffic Control Device (TCD) Student Challenge, to promote innovation and stimulate ideas in the traffic control devices area with a goal to improve operations and safety.

Find recent updates on the latest innovations in the resource list below and be sure to check back for updates.

Exhibit at ATSSA's Annual Traffic Expo


Do you have an innovative roadway safety product? Exhibitors can showcase their innovations in the New Products Rollout at the Annual Convention & Traffic Expo. Products released after Jan. 1 of this year qualify for entry. Twenty will be accepted for the New Product Listing and just 12 will be accepted for presentation to a panel of judges. The top three products will earn an Innovation Award that will be announced during the Convention.

Learn more
about featuring your innovative product to key industry professionals. View videos of last year's entries and award winners.


Erica Terrini
/ Categories: ATSSA, FHWA, Roadway

MASH to become 'performance specification'

AASHTO endorses motion to provide criteria for product owners to test and certify traffic safety devices

At its meeting of October 9 in St. Louis, Missouri, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ (AASHTO) Board of Directors endorsed a motion put forth by the Council of Highways and Streets (Chief Engineers) to develop the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) into a “performance specification.” ATSSA staff’s understanding is that under this approach state departments of transportation would adopt the specification, product owners would test their devices against the criteria through independent testing houses, similar to what is done today, and then the owners would “self-certify” that their device meet the specification based on the test results.

For over a year, AASHTO had been pursuing a path of engaging a “third party administrator” to certify device conformance with MASH and issue the equivalent of “eligibility letters” following a determination by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that it would no longer fulfill that role. Lengthy conversations were held with both the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and Underwriters Laboratory (UL) to serve in that role. Ultimately, both entities declined.

The resolution also called for “flexibility” for the states to continue using NCHRP-350 products if there are no MASH-tested products that are available or “suitable” for that state. An exact definition of the term “suitable” was not included in the resolution. However, ATSSA staff understands that this relates to the unavailability of a MASH tested product that meets a state’s usual specifications.

During the discussion at the Council on Highways and Streets meeting, where the resolution originated, the following points were made or clarified:

• This new approach does not include the extension of any of the MASH deadlines.
• There was a general desire to “reward,” and certainly not penalize, those companies that had moved forward with testing their devices to the MASH criteria.
• FHWA would put an emphasis on communication with its Division Offices so that there is consistent interpretation and administration of this process.
• FHWA would continue to issue letters of eligibility, presumably until this new approach is in place.

The discussion and resolution adopted at the AASHTO meeting did not include any reference to the challenge faced by manufacturers who have tested their devices and are awaiting “release” of their eligibility letters by FHWA. ATSSA understands that the delay in their release is due to a technical question that FHWA has posed to AASHTO regarding the small vehicle, or substitution of the small vehicle, used in the crash tests.

Stay tuned to ATSSA publications and The Flash, the ATSSA Blog, and the association's social media accounts for more information as it becomes available.

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