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Traffic Safety at Median Ditches: Steel vs. Concrete Barrier Performance Comparison Using Computer Simulation

Yücel, Ayhan
Atahan, Ali
Arslan, Turan
Sevim, Umur
In Turkey, concrete V-shaped ditches are formed at the median section of divided highways to provide drainage. Recent accidents show that these ditches actually present safety risks to vehicles entering the medians. Vehicles either cross over the ditch, roll over, or become trapped in the ditch, depending upon the mass, size, speed, and angle of the entering vehicle. To overcome this safety risk and reduce the severity of these accidents, longitudinal barriers are installed along these ditches. Currently, in Turkey, steel barriers are extensively used to improve traffic safety at median ditches. In this paper, the crash performances of steel and concrete barriers used at medians with ditches are compared. A model of a standard steel EDSP-1.33 barrier and a model of a newly developed concrete C470 barrier were constructed, and impact simulations were performed for when they are installed at a ditch slope break point. A nonlinear finite element program, LS-DYNA, was used for the analysis. A 13,000 kg bus model was used to impact both barriers in accordance with European standard requirements for crash tests. Simulation results show that when the steel EDSP-1.33 barrier is used, the bus has the potential for excessive penetration of the ditch, with significant barrier deformation. Moreover, the barrier damage is extensive, resulting in increased maintenance costs. On the other hand, the concrete C470 barrier successfully contains and redirects the 13,000 kg bus impact, with minimal barrier deformation and safety risk. Even though the concrete barrier slides toward the inside of the ditch, the bus does not enter the ditch area and exits the barrier in a stable manner. Therefore, to increase traffic safety at ditches located at the median section of divided highways in Turkey, utilization of the newly developed concrete barrier C470 is recommended.