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Road Safety Week: Speed Management and Safer Traffic Systems

The most effective way to reduce highway fatalities and injuries is to lower speeds.

This is the ‘No Need to Speed’ message that road safety charity Brake is promoting for this year’s Road Safety Week, 16 - 22nd November.

Speed management is a critical part of the Safe System strategy that’s supported by Highways England and which takes a holistic approach towards road safety.

Along with controlled speeds, it looks to create traffic environments that are designed to protect road users in the event of collisions.

It’s this objective which has driven the development and increased adoption of crash cushions to help reduce the risks of vehicle impacts. Here’s a look at how:

What are crash cushions?

A crash cushion, also often known as an impact attenuator, is a device designed to reduce the damage caused by a vehicle collision. These can be general roadside barriers or used to protect against specific hazards such as roadside signs, poles and trees.

A more recent innovation is the development of mobile crash cushions with the units mounted onto the rear of a vehicle. These are typically used to protect temporary traffic management zones and activities.

How do crash cushions reduce injuries and fatalities?

Managing collisions is about controlling kinetic energy. This is the energy of mass in motion that’s transferred during a vehicle crash. While lower vehicle speeds reduce kinetic energy, the crash cushions manage it.

They use materials and structures designed to absorb the energy of an impact. In simple terms, they aim to extend a collision - the longer it lasts, the less deadly the outcome is likely to be.

The most common methods used to absorb energy are the use of steel and aluminium structures which are made to crumple upon impact but other methods include the use of sand, plastics and concrete.

The crash cushions work with other collision management methods such as airbags and vehicle crumple zones. By absorbing and better managing the transfer of kinetic energy, the risks of fatalities and injuries are significantly lowered.

Controlled impacts also help to lessen the risks of flying debris and secondary hazards caused by impacted vehicle spinning into traffic or pedestrians.

What are the different types of crash cushion?

There is a wide range of different crash cushion aimed at a variety of purposes. Here's a look at some of the urban range for the lower speed market that’s supplied by Highway Care:

Janus Crash Cushion

An energy-absorbing steel barrier designed to protect against road hazards. It’s ideal for urban environments with average speeds of 50 to 80 km/h. Its two-ended cushion design provides complete coverage of a hazard.

City Crash Cushion

With chamfered corners to reduce risks to pedestrians and cyclists, this is for use on low-speed and local roads. This is typically used to protect road signs and smaller sized roadside hazards.

Armadillo Crash Cushion

A low-speed urban environment solution that’s often used to reduce risks at junctions and turnings. Its energy-absorbing properties are aimed at reducing the risks of roadside hazards to motorcyclists.

Tree Crash Cushion

Offers impact protection for road users in the case of vehicles collisions with roadside trees. The energy-absorbing panels are adjustable to suit the width of the tree and includes a chamfered design to reduce pedestrian risks.

What is a lorry mounted crash cushion (LMCC)?

Also known as truck-mounted attenuators (TMAs), these are mobile crash cushion systems designed to shield vehicles and work zones in the event of a high-speed impact. They are used as stationary devices or on a moving vehicle to create a safety barrier for temporary traffic management activities.

The Safe Stop 90 HS (SS90) is an example of an effective LMCC with a galvanized support frame holding two light-weight aluminium cartridges that absorb kinetic energy during a collision impact.

Installed to the rear of the vehicle, cab controls allow the SS90 to be hydraulically raised and lowered for storage and transport. It can be deployed at speeds of up to 55mph/110 kpm, compliant with TD49/07).

Is a lorry mounted crash cushion reusable?

The SS90 is designed to be reusable but this will depend on the nature and severity of any impacts. The sturdy frame can handle any kind of low-level ‘nuisance’ bumps and collisions.

For more serious impacts, the aluminium cartridges can be replaced and the unit reset. A warranty partnership allows assessments of units and replacement work to be quickly completed.

Want to know more about the ‘No Need to Speed’ campaign?

The campaign is the focus for this year’s Road Safety Week which is organised by road safety charity Brake. The event brings together groups, organisations and businesses from across the UK to promote better road safety standards.

Get in touch with Highway Care to find out more about our range of different crash cushions for the mobile traffic industry and urban environment.

Call +44(0)344 840 0088 or email

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