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Crash test: 2.4t concrete barrier vs. 10t truck

mdr Version, Youtube Version

German mdr Regional TV has done a rather spectacular set of crash tests (Video with german narration, but the video speaks for itself). They were running a test of a 10t truck vs. a set of 2.4t concrete truck barriers, at 50 kph collision speed.

As expected, the truck goes trough the barrier almost without any speed loss in a frontal collision. That is mostly, because the barriers are unanchored, so they are sent spinning. The truck loses both frontal wheels, though, and is consequently harried.

A second test with a 45 deg collision goes spectacularly wrong: The truck is inflected into the barrier, and goes through the barrier at a right angle again, instead of being deflected and guided following the barrier.

Further investigation reveals that a truck has of course an extremely sturdy, rectangular frame on which the entire chassis and the load rest. The frame is being caught by the barrier and acts as a hook, drawing the load into the barrier instead of being guided by it.

The video is interesting on multiple levels:

  • It shows how much more energy there is in a moving, loaded truck compared to a personal vehicle at the same speed. Where personal vehicles and motorbikes are being pulverised by a 2.4t barrier, the truck at 4 times the weight of the barrier simply moves the barrier away and sends it skidding and spinning.
  • That is not just true in a terrorist attack. The same energy is in play every time you are moving in traffic next to a truck or bus. And you car is about half the weight of such a concrete barrier, unless you are sitting in a SUV. Bicycles do not even register (Article in German).
  • It shows that a proper barrier needs to be solidly anchored to the ground in order to be able to take the energy out of the moving truck. Friction alone is not going to help. That’s expensive and horrendously complicated in terms of event logistics.
  • The tone of the entire report is needlessly alarmist. Of course an unanchored sliding barrier is insufficient, and that has been demonstrated pretty impressively. But that’s fixable in more than one possible way, and needs to be done. Still no need to panic.

So, trucks. Keep an eye on them in traffic, all the time. Because mass matters.

Obligatory Video:

And if a ten ton truck
Kills the both of us
To die by your side
Well the pleasure, the privilege is mine

Published inPost Car SocietyScience

5 Comments

  1. Martin

    The last months I have often seen these giant plastic bags with tons (literally) of small stones. I am no specialist, but those looked awfully like a shotgun cartridge to me :-(.

  2. Christoph

    Well duh. Conservation of Momentum is a bitch, since 1687. And there’s always too much friction – unless you need it (like here), then you can’t get enough of it.

  3. So they spend a lot of money for these barriers without testing them at all?

    • Markus

      Testing is not necessary if the terrorists believe in the barrier.

  4. Arnold Nipper

    Well, the truck almost fitted exactly in the gap between the barriers. So, what should be proofed? Sommerloch?

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