U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
202-366-4000


Skip to content U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway AdministrationU.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration

Safety

eSubscribe
eSubscribe Envelope

FHWA Home / Safety / Roadway Departure / Frequently Asked Questions: FHWA Eligibility Letters for Safety Hardware Devices – Revised 4/8/16

Frequently Asked Questions: FHWA Eligibility Letters for Safety Hardware Devices – Revised 4/8/16

As a service to the States, the FHWA has issued letters to developers, manufacturers, State highway agencies, and other petitioners recognizing their certifications that the hardware they represent have been crash tested and meet the appropriate crash testing criteria

The following Frequently Asked Questions were developed to help clarify the roles of the Division and Headquarters Offices in determining whether hardware is eligible for reimbursement under the Federal-Aid Highway Program as discussed in the FHWA Federal-Aid Reimbursement Eligibility Process for Safety Hardware Devices dated November 12, 2015.

Q1: Does all roadside safety hardware need a FHWA Eligibility Letter in order to be eligible for reimbursement on projects on the NHS?

A1. No.  Eligibility Letters are provided as a service to the States and are not a requirement for roadside safety hardware to be eligible for reimbursement.

Q2: If a State does not request an FHWA Eligibility Letter for a safety hardware device, what documentation can a Division Office rely on that the device is eligible for Federal-aid reimbursement?

A2: When approving the State's standard plans or qualified products lists (QPLs), the Division Office may rely on a certification from the State DOT indicating that the hardware satisfies MASH or NCHRP 350 criteria. The State DOT should keep on file documentation supporting this certification.

Q3: Can a Division Office require a FHWA Eligibility Letter as part of the process for approving State DOT standard plans for roadside safety hardware on projects on the NHS?

A3. No.  The Division Office cannot require that State DOTs provide a FHWA Eligibility Letter as part of the Division's approval process of the State's standard plans. See A2 on what information a Division may rely on. The state should be ready to provide any documentation they have on file that supports their determination of crashworthiness if requested.

Q4: If a state DOT requests an Eligibility Letter, can a Division Office issue a FHWA Eligibility Letter?

A4. No. The Division Office may approve standard plans that include crashworthy hardware, but only the Office of Safety at FHWA Headquarters will issue a FHWA Eligibility Letter.

Q5: In the 11-12-15 memo to field it states "In an effort to encourage installation of MASH crash tested devices/ after December 31, 2015, FHWA will not accept requests for Federal-aid eligibility determinations for any modification based on previous crash testing performed using NCHRP 350 criteria. All modifications to an NCHRP 350-tested device will require testing under MASH in order to receive a Federal-aid reimbursement eligibility letter from FHWA."  Does this mean that any modification to a previously eligible NCHRP 350 device will now require MASH testing for crashworthiness?  If the answer is no, if a state or manufacturer wants to make a modification to a device, what documentation should be maintained by the State DOT as evidence that the device is eligible for Federal-aid reimbursement?

A5. No, the memo only serves as notice that the FHWA Office of Safety will no longer provide the service of issuing eligibility letters for modified NCHRP 350 devices. If a State DOT chooses to make or accept a non-significant modification to a previously eligible NCHRP 350 device (generic or proprietary), the State DOT should keep on file adequate documentation indicating that the modified hardware satisfies NCHRP 350 criteria. If the State DOT or manufacturer deems the modification as a significant modification, a modification that has the potential to affect the device's ability to meet crash test criteria, then the device should be crash tested per MASH testing criteria.

Q6: In the May 18, 2015 letter to industry, it states if a manufacturer makes any modification to any of their roadside safety hardware that has an existing eligibility letter from FHWA, the manufacturer must notify FHWA of such modification with a request for continued eligibility for reimbursement. Does this apply to modifications to NCHRP 350 devices after December 31, 2015?

A6: After December 31, 2015, a manufacturer does not have to notify FHWA of modifications to NCHRP 350 devices that have an existing eligibility letter.  As stated in the November 12, 2015 letter to industry and our November 12, 2015 memo to our Division Offices, FHWA will no longer provide the service of issuing eligibility letters for modifications to NCHRP 350 devices that were submitted to the FHWA Office of Safety after December 31, 2015.  If a State DOT chooses to make or accept a non-significant modification to a previously eligible NCHRP 350 device (generic or proprietary), the State DOT should keep on file adequate documentation indicating that the modified hardware satisfies NCHRP 350 criteria. If the State DOT or manufacturer deems the modification as a significant modification, a modification that has the potential to affect the device's ability to meet crash test criteria, then the device should be crash tested per MASH testing criteria.

Q7: May a Division Office consult with the Office of Safety regarding new roadside safety hardware that doesn't have a FHWA Eligibility Letter, or modifications to existing hardware that currently has an eligibility letter?

A7. The Office of Safety is prepared to discuss safety hardware at any time.

Page last modified on February 16, 2017
Safe Roads for a Safer Future - Investment in roadway safety saves lives
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000