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Home / FHWA Review of ET-Plus / Guardrail Basics

FHWA Review of ET-Plus


A guardrail is a safety barrier intended to shield a motorist who has left the roadway. Guardrails can make roads safer and lessen the severity of crashes. For most drivers in most conditions, guardrails work as intended. However, guardrails cannot completely protect drivers in every situation. Factors such as the size, speed, and orientation of a vehicle can affect guardrail performance.

In 2013, 32,719 fatalities occurred on the Nation’s roads for all vehicle types. Fatalities involving passenger cars and light trucks striking a guardrail face and end represent 0.6 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, of total highway fatalities in 2013. FHWA's number one priority is the safety of the traveling public on our Nation's roadways. All highway deaths and injuries are unacceptable, and FHWA is thoroughly assessing the performance of roadside safety hardware and specifically, the ET-Plus guardrail end terminal.

It is FHWA Policy that roadside safety hardware installed on the National Highway System (NHS) should be in compliance with the crash testing and evaluation criteria contained in the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) or its predecessor the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 350. Devices that are compliance with either of these two sets of criteria are currently considered crashworthy devices.

FHWA provides technical assistance to States by evaluating crash test results to determine whether roadside safety hardware is crashworthy. FHWA maintains charts of roadside safety hardware deemed crashworthy. These charts also serve as a guideline regarding which types of devices should be used in specific situations on the roads. The charts related to guardrails are available at: https://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/roadway_dept/countermeasures/docs/RoadTerminals_Nov2015Safelogo.pdf

Learn more about guardrails and guardrail testing criteria at:

Guardrail 101 - Purpose, Function and Crashworthiness of Guardrails, December 10, 2014.

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Page last modified on November 7, 2015
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000