Have you ever wondered why some roads have guardrails in certain areas while others do not? The answer is really quite complicated. In general, engineers carefully consider many factors before choosing to install guardrails. Off-road conditions are a primary consideration. Sometimes it is safer to allow a vehicle to go off the road onto a flat, grassy area, rather than hit a stretch of guardrail which is inherently a hazard unto itself. In areas where roadside conditions present danger, guardrails may, indeed, be an important part of a safety solution.
Guardrails play a vital role in road safety
It is important to understand that guardrails are just one tool of many that highway safety engineers consider. Highway safety engineers will try to use shoulders along the edge of highways whenever possible. Striping, delineators, and rumble strips also offer safe ways to protect motorists. Guardrails are often one of the last safety measures that engineers may recommend since the guardrail itself is a stationary object alongside a road that motorists would rather not hit.
Not all roads that need Guardrail have it
Nevertheless, guardrails play a vital role in road safety, protecting motorists from possibly hitting trees, concrete roadside structures, and steep drop-offs. Most motorists just feel safer driving dangerous-looking roads when guardrails will prevent a serious off-road collision or precipitous fall. Many motorists have wondered why guardrails are not always found on scary mountain roads like the famous Million Dollar Highway in Colorado. Running between Silverton and Ouray, the Million Dollar Highway offers breathtaking views and a white-knuckle experience for drivers. Many views feature incredibly steep drop-offs of thousands of feet. And … NO GUARDRAILS! The road has 2 narrow lanes. Engineers use shoulders (where there is room), striping, and delineators to improve safety, but no guardrails. With heavy snow in the winter, the road must be plowed regularly by some brave heroes. Guardrails would make plowing impossible after heavy snowfalls. So, if you ever get a chance, check out the Million Dollar Highway in the summer. Be prepared for a drive you’ll never forget!