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Develop, fabricate, and test surrogate bogey vehicles and pendulum masses with noses for evaluating MASH breakaway performance of luminaire poles, signs, and work zone devices


Roadside safety features are utilized along U.S. highways and roadways to serve numerous purposes. For example, longitudinal barriers are used to prevent errant vehicles from striking rigid obstacles and steep slopes beyond the travel lanes. Signs support systems provide messaging and travel guidance to motorists, while luminaire pole systems provide lighting for night-time driving. Work-zone traffic control devices are used to warn and alert motorists of an upcoming construction zone as well as safely guide motorists through the temporarily-effected roadway region.

Historically, roadside safety features have been subjected to crashworthiness evaluations using a variety of impact test specifications and/or guidelines. Some of guidelines have included: AASHTO’s Standard and LRFD Specifications for Structural Supports for Highway Signs, Luminaries, and Traffic Signals; NCHRP Report No. 230; the AASHTO Guide Specifications for Bridge Railings, and NCHRP Report No. 350. For these evaluations of roadside safety hardware, both full-scale crash testing and surrogate vehicle testing had been utilized. In recent years, AASHTO published the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) in 2009 and 2016. Within the MASH guidelines, surrogate vehicle testing was no longer applicable due to a need to objectively assess critical system behaviors resulting in damage and/or penetration of the passenger occupant compartment, such as the windshield, roof, and floor pan. Surrogate vehicle testing was historically used for evaluating many breakaway luminaire poles, sign supports, and light-weight, work-zone traffic control devices (WZTCD) using a representative low-mass, small car vehicle. Within the AASHTO MASH 2009 and 2016 guidelines, another vehicle test evaluation was required with a heavy passenger vehicle, represented as a pickup truck.

With the AASHTO MASH guidelines, elimination of surrogate vehicle testing, the addition of a pickup truck test condition, the existence of numerous luminaire poles, sign supports, and work-zone traffic control devices, and the increased cost to certify these devices, crashworthiness evaluations and innovation have stagnated for many of these devices. As a result, there exists a need to re-examine the use of surrogate vehicle testing in the crashworthiness evaluations of luminaire poles, sign supports, and light-weight, work-zone traffic control devices. The development of robust, surrogate bogey vehicles, with an ability to largely capture vehicle deformation and penetrations as well as accurate system behavior, would reduce crash testing costs and promote greater innovation for new products for manufacturers and state Departments of Transportation. Motorist safety of U.S. roadways would be enhanced as more AASHTO MASH-compliant systems become available and are implemented.


The main objective of the research study is to develop, fabricate, test, and evaluate surrogate bogey vehicles and pendulum masses (referred to a surrogate devices) for determining Test Level 3 MASH 2016 crashworthiness with passenger vehicles for breakaway luminaire poles, sign supports, and work-zone traffic control devices used in permanent and temporary applications. The surrogate devices should be capable of providing cost-effective, compliant, impact testing and evaluations of roadside safety hardware, while evaluating as many critical behaviors and failure modes as deemed feasible and reasonable. From this study, researchers will develop 3-D CAD details for the fabrication of prototype, surrogate, MASH 2016 bogey vehicles, which pertain to the 1100C and 2270P passenger vehicles. The study will also result in 3-D CAD details for the fabrication of a 1100C vehicle mass compatible with drop pendulums for use in low-speed impact testing on a subset of breakaway features. Surrogate devices will be fabricated and satisfactorily demonstrated under this study. Limited validations will be performed. Recommendations will be provided regarding the proper applications, test conditions, and limitations for the surrogate devices as well as which critical behaviors and failure modes can be evaluated.


State DOTs are required to install crashworthy safety hardware along freeways, interstates, highways, and roadways. In recent years, AASHTO and FHWA agreed to a roadside safety hardware implementation plan corresponding to AASHTO’s Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (2016), which included breakaway luminaire poles, sign supports, and work-zone traffic control devices. Each hardware category consists of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of combinations that require crashworthiness testing and evaluations. In addition, many of these devices are provided by private industry and/or are proprietary. Further, a greater number of tests are required under MASH 2016 for these hardware categories, which increases overall crash testing costs using real vehicles. Today, crash testing is required on a greater number of system combinations as compared to many years ago. When considering these facts, a very limited number of these devices have been tested and evaluated under the MASH 2016 impact safety guidelines. Due to unavailability, our State DOTs have only implemented limited quantities of MASH-compliant breakaway luminaire poles, sign supports, and work-zone traffic control devices to date.

The development of surrogate testing devices would reduce complaint testing costs, increase innovation, and promote testing and evaluation of a greater number of devices in the noted roadside safety hardware categories. Over time, more MASH-compliant devices would be placed along U.S. highways and roadways, thus benefiting the motoring public and helping to reduce roadside fatalities and serious injuries.

Related Research:

This research study would build upon historical bogey and pendulum apparatuses that were developed and used for impact testing and evaluating breakaway luminaire poles, sign supports, and lightweight WZTCDs across the U.S. The noted test methods were used at the FHWA Federal Outdoor Impact Laboratory (FOIL), Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), Midwest Roadside Safety Facility (MwRSF), Valmont-UNL Pendulum Testing Facility, E-Tech Testing Services Inc. (E-TECH), and many other agencies. In recent years, the Florida Department of Transportation, in collaboration with the University of Florida, developed and used a crushable nose for a pendulum mass to evaluate the breakaway characteristics of highway signs for MASH 1100C vehicles. Further, researchers at George Washington University and the National Crash Analysis Center, now at George Mason University and the Center for Collision Safety and Analysis (CCSA), conducted research to develop a crushable nose for 1100C surrogate vehicles.


A list of major tasks required to successfully complete the research study is provided below.

Phase 1 – Background, Brainstorming, and Preliminary Plan

  • Task 1: Perform detailed literature review on development and use of surrogate testing (bogey vehicles and pendulum masses) for evaluating luminaire poles, sign supports, and work-zone traffic control devices. Also, review relevant automotive crash test results conducted by NHTSA and IHS.
  • Task 2: Identify, discuss, and rank important features, properties, dimensions, and structural characteristics for the design of surrogate devices.
  • Task 3: Identify, discuss, and rank critical system behaviors and failure modes that could be captured under impact testing with surrogate bogey vehicles and a pendulum mass.
  • Task 4: Brainstorm multiple concepts for surrogate devices. Select preferred concepts and prepare preliminary sketches.
  • Task 5: Prepare preliminary plan for developing and fabricating surrogate devices considering the ranked attributes from Task 2 and Task 3. Determine vehicle attributes and system behaviors that will be considered. Present findings via MS PowerPoint and virtual meeting. Obtain panel feedback and confirmation for the preliminary plan.

Phase 2 – Develop Surrogate Devices and Prepare Validation Testing Plan

  • Task 6: Perform analysis and design to configure the surrogate devices.
  • Task 7: As needed, utilize other methods (e.g., static testing, dynamic testing, finite element analysis, etc.) to supplement design process and consider critical attributes, features, and behaviors for surrogate devices.
  • Task 8: Prepare 3-D CAD details with material specifications.
  • Task 9: Prepare plan for conducting preliminary validation testing on surrogate devices.
  • Task 10: Present findings, CAD details, and testing plan via MS PowerPoint and virtual meeting. Obtain panel feedback and confirmation for the fabrication and testing of surrogate devices.

Phase 3 – Fabricate Surrogate Devices and Conduct Validation Testing on Support Systems

  • Task 11: Fabricate 1100C and 2270P surrogate devices (bogeys, pendulum mass, etc.).
  • Task 12: Conduct vehicle handling testing and dynamic impact testing on support systems to validate surrogate devices. Repeat testing as needed. Document results from validation testing on support systems with surrogate devices.
  • Task 13: Redesign and/or modify surrogate devices and update 3-D CAD details as needed.
  • Task 14: Present findings and impact testing results via MS PowerPoint and virtual meeting. Obtain panel feedback and confirmation on final design of surrogate devices.

Phase 4 – Reporting, Dissemination, and Implementation

  • Task 15: Prepare and submit draft and final research reports with final 3-D CAD details with material specifications along with summary, conclusions, recommendations and implementation guidance.
  • Task 16: Disseminate research findings at national meetings to promote implementation of surrogate testing of breakaway luminaire poles, sign supports, and work-zone traffic control devices.

Research findings and results would be provided to state highway agencies, accredited crash testing laboratories, roadside safety hardware developers and manufacturers, as well as private industry. Design details and material specifications for the MASH 2016 surrogate devices would be available to the entire roadside safety community. Accredited testing laboratories as well as private R&D divisions would fabricate the surrogate devices for use in conducting compliant testing under MASH 2016 as well as low-cost R&D testing with pendulums. State DOTs would implement the crashworthy hardware resulting from the use of the new surrogate bogey vehicles and pendulum mass in safety evaluations. This information would be disseminated in national forums via PowerPoint presentations, research summaries, design manuals, and CAD plan sets, including at Pooled Fund Safety Program meetings, Task Force 13 meetings, AASHTO Technical Committee for Roadside Safety (TCRS) meetings, AASHTO T-12 meetings, and Transportation Research Board (TRB) AFB20 Committee on Roadside Safety Design meetings.

The following list includes organizations that would be interested in the research results and would support implementation:


AASHTO Committee T-12, Sam Fallaha, P.E., (850) 414-4296, sam.fallaha@dot.state.fl.us


AASHTO Committee T-7, Tim Keller, P.E., (614) 466-2463, tim.keller@dot.ohio.gov


TRB Committee AKB10, Richard Dunne, P.E., (609) 468-7051, rdunne@gpinet.com


TRB Sub-Committee AKB10(1), Carl Macchietto, P.E., (402) 359-6735, cmacchietto@valmont.com


AASHTO TCRS Committee, Keith Kota, P.E., (603) 271-1615, kcota@dot.state.nh.us


TRB Committee AFB20, Roger Bligh, Ph.D., P.E., (979) 317-2703, R-Bligh@tti.tamu.edu


Task Force 13, John Durkos, (330) 346-0721, jdurkos@roadsystems.com

Sponsoring Committee:AKB10, Innovative Highway Structures and Appurtenances
Research Period:24 - 36 months
Research Priority:High
RNS Developer:Richard Dunne, PE (AKB10 Chair), Ronald Faller, Ph.D., P.E., University of Nebraska-Lincoln,Carl Macchietto, P.E., Valmont Industries
Source Info:Others Supporting the Problem Statement
• AASHTO Committee T-12, Sam Fallaha, P.E., 850-414-4296, sam.fallaha@dot.state.fl.us
• AASHTO Committee T-7, Tim Keller, P.E., (614) 466-2463, tim.keller@dot.ohio.gov
• TRB Sub-Committee AFF10(1), Carl Macchietto, P.E., (402) 359-6735, cmacchietto@valmont.com
Potential Panel Members
• Sam Fallaha, P.E., Florida DOT, AASHTO T-12, 850-414-4296, sam.fallaha@dot.state.fl.us
• Carl Macchietto, P.E., Valmont Industries Inc., (402) 359-6735, cmacchietto@valmont.com
• Erik Emerson, P.E., Wisconsin DOT, AASHTO TCRS, 608-266-2842, Erik.Emerson@wi.gov
• Geoff Maus, P.E., TrafFix Devices Inc., 949-361-5663, gmaus@traffixdevices.com
• Bill Wilson, P.E., Wyoming DOT, 307-777-4216, bill.wilson@wyo.gov
• Dan Waddle, P.E., Nebraska DOT, 402-479-4594, dan.waddle@nebraska.gov
• Ali Hangul, P.E., Tennessee DOT, 615-741-0840, ali.hangul@tn.gov
• Doug Gabauer, Ph.D., Bucknell University, 570-577-2902, doug.gabauer@bucknell.edu
Date Posted:05/22/2020
Date Modified:05/26/2020
Index Terms:Crash tests, Breakaway supports, Poles (Supports), Sign supports, Traffic control devices,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Safety and Human Factors
Bridges and other structures

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