Crashworthy Work Zone Traffic Control Devices

Federal Highway Administration policy calls for the use of crashworthy channelizers, signs, barricades, barriers, etc., in work zones on the National Highway System. "Crashworthy" devices are those that have passed a crash test conducted under the guidance of NCHRP Report 350 or the AASHTO MASH. From the links on this page you can read about FHWA policy on crashworthy hardware, learn about the different categories of work zone devices, search for FHWA Acceptance Letters on all devices that have been deemed crashworthy, review Frequently Asked Questions about work zone devices.

FHWA guidance on crash testing of work zone traffic control devices is contained in two memoranda. The first, dated July 25, 1997, titled "Information: Identifying Acceptable Highway Safety Features," [HTML, PDF 1.24 MB] established four categories of work zone devices:

  • Category I devices were those lightweight devices which could be self-certified by the vendor.
  • Category II devices were other lightweight devices which needed individual crash testing.
  • Category III devices were barriers and other fixed or massive devices also needing crash testing.
  • Category IV devices were trailer mounted lighted signs, arrow panels, etc.

The second guidance memorandum, "INFORMATION: Crash Tested Work Zone Traffic Control Devices" [PDF 3.72 MB] was issued on August 28, 1998 This more recent memorandum lists devices that are acceptable under Categories I, II, and III, and provided compliance dates for hardware to be used on the National Highway System. All new work zone hardware on the NHS must now comply and be crashworthy, with the exception of Category IV trailer mounted devices. FHWA will continue to monitor the crash history of these devices and intends to issue additional guidance in October of 2006.

Program Contact

Nick Artimovich

202-366-1331

Will Longstreet

202-366-0087

What's New

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ET-Plus W-Beam Guardrail Terminal Memorandum new

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FHWA Roadway Lighting Handbook, August 2012

RwD Strategic Plan, April 2013

Updated Guidance on Sign Retroreflectivity, April 2013

Clarifying Guidance on Daytime Luminance, January 2013

Guidance for the Selection , Use and Maintenance of Cable Barrier Systems, November 2012