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FHWA Home / Safety / Roadway Departure / Roadside Safety Hardware Identification Methods

Roadside Safety Hardware Identification Methods

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Chapter 6. Summary and Conclusions

The objective of this report was to identify available ID methods to improve the data collected on roadside safety hardware to use for ISPEs and evaluate those methods. The study found that there are mainly three types of ID methods that are feasible and available for use. Each ID method has advantages and disadvantages when considering their ability to convey information, withstand roadside conditions, and connect to existing agency asset management systems or other databases. The evaluation resulted in a performance matrix of the evaluation of ID methods (located in chapter 5), which transportation agencies can use to select their preferred ID method based on their site-specific needs and available resources.

Transportation agencies have made recent strides in tracking and managing their assets, and several examples related to roadside safety hardware are documented in this report. Several transportation agencies are using tag identifiers in a limited or exploratory capacity. None were identified as being used for ISPEs, although there are examples of uses to track some roadside assets, primarily signs. As asset management becomes more routine for transportation agencies, it is likely these ID methods will begin to be used for roadway assets, especially if costs continue to diminish and capabilities continue to expand. Vehicle-to-infrastructure communication may also play a large role in making this type of data more readily available.

The currently available ID methods 1D and 2D barcodes, passive and active RFID, and serial numbers were analyzed based on input from industry experts and through review of literature and specifications. This report provides detailed information on the capabilities of each method and how they work within an information system. In addition, practitioners provided insights on several factors that transportation agencies need to consider when planning to use the ID methods. Each method has benefits and limitations.

The evaluation of the three primary ID methods consisted of grading each method in 15 performance areas. The performance areas were developed to include the ID methods’ ability to convey information, withstand roadside conditions, and connect to existing systems. Transportation agencies and the roadside safety hardware industry can use the grades for the tag identifiers in those areas most important to their needs along with cost information for the tags, readers, and middleware needed as a starting point in developing or improving their inventory and safety hardware tracking capabilities.

It is critical for transportation agencies to maintain quality data on these assets from inception to salvage. Identifying and maintaining a database of roadside hardware using any of the ID methods identified in this report can facilitate asset management and in-service performance efforts. Barcodes, RFID, and serial numbers are all potentially useful ID methods of identifying and documenting safety hardware. Beyond this report, it is important to define the scale and therefore the cost of implementation of the hardware ID method, which may determine overall feasibility. It may be most feasible to begin with a subset of roadside safety hardware but develop the system with future full-scale implementation in mind.

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Page last modified on August 11, 2020
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