It’s easy to take guardrails for granted as we drive. As they run alongside our turnpikes and country roads alike, they’re as much a part of the scenery of driving as streetlights, broken lane lines, or signs for gas stations. However, guardrails aren’t there to blend into the background, nor do we install them for decorative purposes. Their construction mitigates severe car accidents, whether urban, rural, or anywhere in between. Here’s a closer look at just how highway guardrails improve driver safety in both abstract and tangible ways.

Psychologically Speaking

It’s possible that our brains don’t let guardrails fade into the background after all. Just as we respond to traffic lights and turn signals, the appearance of guardrails is a signal of its own. It tells us that we should drive carefully along a stretch of roadway that requires such reinforcements. By reasserting the highway’s boundaries, we may drive more carefully within a more constrained field. In this fashion, guardrails improve safety without a brush of contact with a car.

Shock Absorption

The clearest example of how highway guardrails improve driver safety, though, is when cars do make contact with them. Bear in mind that a guardrail system is more than the rail itself. It includes the rail, the posts, and even the ground in which the posts lie. All these parts work in concert to absorb impact. In cases where a car makes a head-on collision with the guardrail, highway engineers hope that the guardrail will absorb the brunt of the impact and prevent the vehicle from continuing forward. Guardrails aren’t completely ubiquitous along roads—they’re often there to protect drivers from cliffs, outcroppings, and other major hazards.

Built to Break

In some instances, guardrails cannot keep a car on the road. Along high-speed corridors, it’s more advantageous for guardrails to absorb the kinetic energy of a crash and then break, dramatically slowing down the vehicle but allowing it to pass through rather than remain in the flow of traffic. When vehicles make angled collisions relative to the rail, guardrails often give way, helping the driver come to a stop out of harm’s way with considerably less damage.

Adding More Rails

In addition to providing commercial fencing solutions throughout western and central Connecticut, Durham Fence Company is also a trusted partner in highway guardrail installation. We do our part to keep New England drivers safe with well-installed guardrails along our more roadways. If there are stretches of road in your municipality that could benefit from the safety that guardrails provide, contact us today to begin working toward a solution.