New wire rope barriers ‘more dangerous’

Higher and “more dangerous” wire rope barriers (pictured) will soon replace the current WRBs around Australia.

The BRIFEN MASH compliant cable barriers will supersede current NCHRP-350 systems that will be phased out from 30 September 2020 in NSW with other states set to follow.

Wire rope barriers promiseShorter WRBs to be phased out

Supplier Safe Direction say the Brifen system has been crash tested.

However, Motorcycle Safety Consultant John Nelson, 62, says the new barrier type is primarily designed for cars and SUVs.

“Crash testing for motorcycles would not have been done, simply because the outcomes are already known,” says John who has also been a rider trainer and crash analyst. 

“I was shocked to see the new WRB design and wonder how Brifen can create a barrier system that is even worse for motorcyclists impacting the barrier directly.

“The only scenario that is being touted by the road safety community is the out-of-control oncoming vehicle, and a rider is going past the site. 

“Each time I challenge the pro-WRB community to show the research and evidence that WRB saves motorcyclists, they can’t, won’t and disappear.” 

New design

New Safe Direction wire rope barriersNew Safe Direction wire rope barriers

The new design is higher and the cable is spread over a wider area with less space at the bottom. 

John says the original design meant riders were prone to going over the top and being injured by the cable and posts. 

“The new design would keep a rider from going over the top and extrude a body through the cable and posts,” he says. 

Many riders view wire rope barriers as “people slicers”.

However, Australian road safety consultancy Safe System Solutions Pty Ltd Research and Evaluations Lead and motorcyclist Dr Tana Tan says they have no issue with wire rope barriers on straights as riders don’t tend to fall asleep as much as drivers. 

“That’s because we have limited tank range so we stop more frequently, we generally monitor our fatigue better and we have to be alert to ride,” he says.

“The issue is with placing WRBs on curves.”

Wire rope barriers in Tassie on a gradual bendWire rope barriers in Tassie on a gradual bend

Transport departments throughout Australia adhere to the standards published in the Austroads Guide to Road Design which do not permit wire rope barriers on curves of less than 200 metre radius. 


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