As we know, vehicle crash barriers are typically designed to mitigate the impact of vehicles to protect people and assets.

The word “mitigate” is of utmost importance here.

The term “crash barrier” is used to mean any barrier designed to mitigate vehicle momentum, whether accidental or intended.

However, crash barriers might not be able to stop large and heavy vehicles, such as heavy trucks and buses, traveling at high speeds.

In these cases, the barrier may still provide some level of protection by reducing the vehicle’s speed and redirecting its trajectory, but it may not completely stop the vehicle.

So, how do you provide the best protection for your site once accepting this fact?

The effectiveness of vehicle crash barriers in stopping vehicles depends on various factors, including the type and design of the barrier, the speed and weight of the vehicle, and the angle and direction of impact.

In this blog, we will explore how this is calculated against various standards, and how to best protect your site from vehicles that crash barriers might not be able to stop.


Types of Vehicle Crash Barriers


Becoming familiar with the types of vehicle crash barriers is the first step in specifying the right product.

Vehicle crash barriers come in various types, each designed to address specific safety needs and potential crash scenarios.

When you think of all the possible scenarios that would benefit from a vehicle crash barrier, it becomes clear just how important these protective features are in day-to-day life.

Here are some of the most popular used vehicle crash barriers.

  1. Bollards

Bollards are short, sturdy posts often used in urban areas to prevent vehicle intrusion into pedestrian zones or protected areas. They are typically made of steel, concrete, or other impact-resistant materials and play a critical role in enhancing safety in crowded areas and preventing intentional attacks.

  1. Concrete Barriers

Concrete barriers are one of the most widely used types of crash barriers due to their durability and strength. They are typically made of reinforced concrete and come in different shapes, such as vertical or sloped faces, and are effective in redirecting vehicles and preventing them from crossing over into opposing lanes when used for traffic purposes.

  1. Water-Filled Barriers

Water-filled barriers are temporary or semi-permanent solutions often used in construction zones or during events. They are made of plastic or other lightweight materials and filled with water to provide stability.

  1. Wire Rope Barriers

Wire rope barriers, or cable barriers, consist of tensioned steel cables connected to posts or anchorages. They are particularly effective in reducing the severity of crashes, especially for vehicles with lower masses. Cable barriers are known for absorbing impact energy and gradually stopping the vehicle.

  1. High Security Fencing

High security fencing, used for hostile vehicle mitigation, is used to protect critical infrastructure, military sites, and data centres from vehicle impact. When specified correctly, in terms of height and material, these fences are tested against various crash standards to ensure efficiency.


Vehicle Crash Barrier Testing and Standards


So, if barriers aren’t specified to STOP vehicles, what do the testing standards mean?

Crash barrier crash testing is a systematic process that evaluates the barriers’ performance under various impact scenarios, simulating real-world crash conditions.

The results of these tests inform the design improvements and help set safety standards for these essential safety features.

There are three commonly used crash-testing standards.

  1. PAS68

PAS 68 is the UK’s standard and the security industry’s benchmark for HVM (Hostile Vehicle Mitigation) solutions.

This standard states that “A bollard or barrier’s impact resilience must match the impact forces at play in the environment it will be used.”.

This standard tests the speed, impact angle, impact penetration and debris dispersion.


  1. IWA 14-1

IWA stands for ‘International Workshop Agreement’.

This is an impact test standard measuring the performance outcome for impact-tested barriers.

For IWA 14-1, this specifies the “essential impact performance requirement for a vehicle security barrier (VSB) and a test method for rating its performance when subjected to a single impact by a test vehicle not driven by a human being”.

  1. ASTM

The ASTM ratings are described to “establish a penetration rating for vehicle perimeter barriers subjected to a vehicle impact”.

It is worth noting, compliance with these test procedures establishes a measure of performance but does not mean that it will stop vehicle penetration.


The Importance Of Understanding Barrier Efficiency


Understanding how crash barriers function is paramount to comprehending their role in protecting roads and infrastructure.

Contrary to popular belief, crash barriers do not guarantee the complete stoppage of vehicles; rather, they are designed to mitigate the risks associated with collisions.

For this reason, it’s important to specify a vehicle crash barrier dependent on the speed of vehicle you believe to be at risk of.

Although the size of the vehicle will affect the crash impact, a crash barrier needs to be tested against mitigating this risk – not stopping it.

Emphasising education and awareness about vehicle crash barriers, from companies such as Barkers Fencing, can further mitigate the risk of such attacks and accidents.

If you would like to understand more about your environment, it’s worth enlisting a security professional to complete a VDA. In the case that you don’t know anyone who can carry out a VDA, speak to a company like us to gain professional advice.

Specialising in fencing, Barkers can advise you on the best way to mitigate the risk of vehicle impact on your site, and discuss which products can best protect you.

If you have any further questions, our expert team are here to help. From discussing the basics of vehicle crash barriers right through to helping you specify the correct protection for your site – Barkers Fencing are here for you.