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2009 MASH Replaces NCHRP-350 as Highway Safety Standard

MASH (Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware) is the new set of guidelines for crash testing safety devices on the NHS (National Highway System). The 2009 Mash replaces the previous testing standard: the NCHRP-350. After January 1, 2011, all new hardware products installed on U.S.  highways must pass the MASH criteria in order to be allowed use on national highways. Since 1962, there has been a testing criterion for road/highway hardware. NCHRP-350 has been the standard for safety testing since 1993.  NCHRP-350 accepted hardware is still approved for new installation and replacement.

Why Is It Necessary?
The safety changes are mainly necessitated by alterations made to vehicles over the past decade. Cars have greatly increased in size, so different safety regulations are required to keep the occupants safe. The average bumper height on light trucks has risen considerably since 1993, so previous highway safety designs are no longer adequate.

Products Currently Being Designed
Any revised or new highway safety products under development before October 15, 2009, when MASH was released, may continue to be tested with the NCHRP-350 criteria. However, as of January 1, 2011, the Federal Highway Administration will not review or accept requests for a revised or new hardware plan that complies with the former safety system.

Interestingly enough, the TL-3 testing speed was not increased above the previous 100km/hr rate. The FHWA Office of Highway Safety considers that the 100km/hr testing speed is an adequate representation of the speed for most run-off-road accidents. In early discussions of the update, there were numerous discussions about the need to increase the 100km/h test speeds. However, research data has supported that impact with fixed objects usually occurred at reduced speeds since the driver is likely to apply their brakes beforehand.

There is no deadline that requires states to switch to 2009 MASH hardware. NCHRP-350 equipment may remain in place on major highways and roads. MASH hardware should be used when available, but there are no requirements for its replacement.