The thought of a collision on the road is something everyone fears and wants to avoid at all costs. However, our avoidance does not ensure a collision with another automobile will never happen. As such, there must be preventative measures taken to maintain our safety, should such an event occur. That is where highway impact attenuators step in; keep reading for an overview of these safety structures on our roads.

Cowboy Cushions

Did you know that highway impact attenuators also go by other names like crash cushions, crash attenuators, and cowboy cushions? It’s for a good reason: These structures help absorb the kinetic energy and momentum of vehicles colliding. When vehicles collide, they usually travel at incredibly fast speeds that can damage a person’s internal organs, leading to severe injury or death. You will most likely find attenuators on or near highways in front of a permanent structure, gore points, an overpass, or traffic barriers.


We have now established an overview of the main purpose of highway impact attenuators, which is to absorb the shock of a vehicular collision. Cowboy cushions can also redirect a vehicle back onto the road. If a vehicle loses control and veers off the road, it can and will collide with the objects around it, which could be anything from solid structures to hazards to pedestrians. You will find attenuators as redirectors near hazards, machinery, and roadside construction to protect workers.

Ensuring Safety

As you can surmise, highway impact attenuators wear many different hats to ensure the safety of everyone on these busy roads. Many kinds of attenuators exist for varying purposes, so you’ll want a company you can trust to install your attenuators. Work with our experts at Durham Fence & Guardrail, and we provide highway guardrail installation to help protect and deflect, keeping pedestrians and drivers safe.