Nationwide Roadside Safety Research Headed by Midwest Pooled Fund Research Program

Map of the United States with some filled in with red.

As an integral part of the Midwest Pooled Fund Research Program, Midwest Roadside Safety Facility (MwRSF) has been a leader in the development of crashworthy safety structurers across the United States. The program meets twice a year, one webinar and one in person, to review progress on existing research and discuss projects for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Midwest Pooled Fund Research Program, administrated by the Nebraska Department of Transportation, is a collaborative program between state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) and MwRSF dedicated to sponsoring roadside safety research. The program is able to address roadside safety needs of the state DOTs and solve problems of similar interest, standardizing safety features across state borders.

The program has seen tremendous growth since its beginning in 1990. The first year started with three member states and three projects, with a little over $150,000 in funding. Now, at year 29, there are 21 member states and eight projects with over $1.25 million in funding.

Midwest Roadside Safety Facility conducts all the research efforts funded through the program. The SAFER Barrier for use on motorsport speedways is one of MwRSF’s most notable achievements, along with the MASH thrie beam bullnose median terminal. They conduct safety performance evaluations of various roadside features, such as bridge and road barriers, while developing new and innovative design concepts and hardware technologies for use along U.S. and international highways and road ways. The projects result in detailed research reports and are often published in refereed journals and presented at national meetings and conferences.

A recent project is the developing, testing, and evaluation of the Midwest Guardrail System (MGS), the strong-post W-beam guardrail system that increases safety for impacts with higher center-of-mass vehicles while providing the same level of safety for smaller vehicles. This was an update to the standard 27 in. and 27 ¾ in. high W-beam guardrail systems and are recommended by the federal highway administration and installed across the United States.

The Midwest Pooled Fund Research Program has many benefits to members including addressing and prioritizing safety topics critical to member states, collaboration opportunities with an extensive group of professional researchers, and service on key transportation research committees and panels. Most important, with 21 states focused on safety for their roads, the innovative researchers at MwRSF are able to provide a safer environment for drivers nationwide.

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