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Motor-cyclist friendly guardrail by Saferoad

8 february 2018 by Henk Zwartenkot

The Motorcyclist protection beam is becoming an increasingly well-known product in the Netherlands. The beams are usually placed under existing guardrail to limit the risk of injury to motorcyclists when they fall off their motorcycle. If non protected the posts of the guardrails system quickly become deadly obstacles for a sliding motorcyclist .

This problem has already been recognized at the end of the last century. The development of a shielding for the guardrail poles has therefore already started in the late 1990s. In 2004, as a result, the first pieces of motor-friendly beams were installed in the Netherlands. In the same period there were also a number of European bodies that started working on a standard that could be tested unambiguously if the motorcycle protection system meets the requirements and if it is safe. The test protocols describe how the test set-up should be organized and which criteria the results of the test had to meet in order to speak of a successful test. Unfortunately, the various bodies had developed different protocols. Both in terms of positioning of the motorcyclist-dummy, the measuring method and the acceptance criteria. The results are therefore completely incomparable.

In recent years, use of the NPR-CEN / TS 1317-8 seems to become more common use. This specification does not yet have the status of a complete (harmonized) European Standard and can therefore only be applied by road managers on an optional basis. In the specification the goal is clearly higher than in the other standards known in the Netherlands.

The 1317-8 allows the manufacturer to measure the performance of his Motorcycle protections system. The speed at which the Motorcyclist "crashes" on the system, that is 60 or 70 km / h, is chosen by the manufacturer, after which the test laboratory determines by means of a full-scale test what the injury of the motorcyclist is in the event of a collision. This is expressed in an I (lowest personal injury risk), an II (higher personal injury risk) or a Fail.

Saferoad last year tested the familiar common flat shaped Motorcyclist beam first. The test with 70 km / h resulted in a Fail as the forces measured at the neck of the Motorcyclist-dummy were out of scale. The Motorcyclist beam with neck-support-shape was then tested by Saferoad. With 70km / h a maximum safety level I was achieved here. Saferoad calls this Motorcyclist protection system its MotoShield C70-I.

However, the EN 1317-8 specification does not make it possible to issue a CE declaration solely for the MotoShield beam. A CE declaration can only be issued if, in addition to the tests with the Motorcyclist dummy, the tests for the guardrail system are also performed again (EN 1317-2). The manufacturer must demonstrate that the guardrail system with a mounted motoshield has no negative influence on the other traffic. However, carrying out these extra tests creates a dilemma. For every type of guardrail where the Motoshield can / or should be mounted, the tests must be carried out "again". Full-scale tests are very expensive and these costs will have to be calculated by the manufacturer in the price of (only) the motorcyclist protection system. In this way, the motorcyclist protection system  becomes unaffordable and this has the effect that regulations from road authorities regarding requirements to motorcyclist protection systems are often not clear or very outdated.

Saferoad is in favor of the methodology used in Belgium; Motorcyclist protection systems that have been successfully tested according to CEN / TS 1317-8 may under certain conditions be used under different type of guardrail systems without having to perform the 1317-2 tests. A guardrail system that is proven to be "rigid" (tested as vehicle class H2 or higher) will likely not be adversely affected in terms of performance by adding more steel (the motorcyclist protection system). If the Motorcyclist protection system is to be mounted under a guardrail system with a lower containment class (H1 or lower), then the behavior of an N2 system with mounted motorcyclist protections system is determined by means of a full scale TB11 test only. In this way, the costs stay at a lower level, but a substantiated statement can be made about the (continued) functioning of the guardrail system.

In order to be able to fix the motorcyclistsprotection beams under various types of guardrailsystems, adjustments will often have to be made to the mounting bracket. These adjustments are permitted (without having to rerun the full scale tests) as long as the dimensions and appearance of the bracketpart that deforms at impact, are not changed. Also the amount and the location of the brackets and the length of the beam may be changed, but again under certain conditions and always aimed at safe functioning.

This regulation is clear and contributes in Belgium to a growing demand for motorcyclist shelves. A good thing and a Safe Road, also for motorcyclists.