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U.S. Department of Transportation

Federal Highway Administration

400 Seventh St., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20590


June 9, 2005

Refer to: HSA-10/WZ-209

Mr. Steven McKinley
Traffic Solutions, Inc.
2323 Greens Road
Houston, Texas 77032

Dear Mr. McKinley:

Thank you for your letter of March 14, 2005, requesting the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) acceptance of your company's Tracker vertical panel as a crashworthy traffic control device for use in work zones on the National Highway System (NHS). Accompanying your letter were reports of informal crash testing conducted at the Houston Motor Speedway who certified the impact speeds and video of the tests. You requested that we find these devices acceptable for use on the NHS under the provisions of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 350 "Recommended Procedures for the Safety Performance Evaluation of Highway Features."


The 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," established four categories of work zone devices: Category I devices are those lightweight devices which are to be self-certified by the vendor, Category II devices are other lightweight devices which need individual crash testing but with reduced instrumentation, Category III devices are barriers and other fixed or heavy devices also needing crash testing with normal instrumentation, and Category IV devices are trailer mounted lighted signs, arrow panels, etc. for which crash testing requirements have not yet been established. The second guidance memorandum was issued on August 28, 1998, and is titled "INFORMATION: Crash Tested Work Zone Traffic Control Devices." This later memorandum lists devices that are acceptable under Categories I, II, and III.

A brief description of the devices follows:

The Tracker panel is blow-molded UV stabilized low-density polyethylene plastic measuring 43 inches tall. It is 9.3 inches wide and 1.3 inches thick at the top tapering to 12.6 inches wide and 5.4 inches thick at the bottom. The bottom flange measures 8.2 inches by 15.4 inches.

The Tracker's bases are black tire rubber, the smaller weighing 20 pounds and measuring 20 x 20 x 1.75 inches while the 30 pound base is 20 x 28 x 1.75 inches. The area for retroreflective sheeting is 8 inches wide by 36 inches tall. The tested devices had a reflector of Coroplast substrate that was attached using a 3/8 inch x 1 ½ inches galvanized carriage bolt with a 3/8 inch flat washer, lock washer, and nut.


Informal automobile testing was conducted on your company's devices using a Mercury Tracer. Two stand-alone examples of the device were tested in separate live-driver runs, one head-on turned at 90 degrees. The Houston Motor Speedway verified the 70 mph impact speeds. Although the test vehicle is larger than the 820C vehicle specified in the NCRHP Report 350, the vehicle mass is irrelevant when testing a lightweight traffic control device that is not affixed to the pavement. The front profile of the vehicle was adequate to demonstrate the crash performance of the test article.


Damage was limited to scuffing and minor indentations to the front of the hood of the test vehicle. The test article did not contact the windshield. The results of the testing met the FHWA requirements and, therefore, the device described above and detailed in the enclosed drawings is acceptable for use on the NHS under the range of conditions tested, when proposed by a State.

Please note the following standard provisions that apply to the FHWA letters of acceptance:

Sincerely yours,

/original signed by/

John R. Baxter, P.E.
Director, Office of Safety Design
Office of Safety

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