Highway Safety: More Robust DOT Oversight of Guardrails and Other Roadside Hardware Could Further Enhance Safety

In 2014, 54 percent of traffic fatalities in the United States occurred as a result of a vehicle’s leaving the roadway, according to U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) data. Roadside safety hardware, such as guardrails, is meant to reduce the risk of a serious crash when leaving the roadway. But in the last several years, a number of serious injuries and deaths resulted from crashes into roadside safety hardware. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to review the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA’s) oversight framework for roadside safety hardware. This report assesses: (1) how FHWA performs oversight of state policies and practices related to roadside safety hardware; (2) the laboratory crash-testing process and FHWA’s oversight of this process; and (3) the extent to which information is available on roadside safety hardware’s performance once installed. GAO reviewed federal and state policies, surveyed state DOTs and received 44 responses, and reviewed documentation from nine U.S. crash test labs. GAO is making recommendations, including that DOT monitor and periodically report on the transition to the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) crash test standards; develop a process for third party verification of crash test results; and support additional research on roadside safety hardware’s in-service performance. DOT concurred with the recommendations and provided technical comments, which were incorporated in the report, as appropriate.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 48p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01605734
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: GAO-16-575
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 7 2016 2:33PM