Highways are dangerous because of the speed at which vehicles travel. In the 1930s and 1940s, people would have head-on crashes, so Departments of Transportation used wooden barriers between the lanes. These did little to protect drivers from major crashes, though they did help with minor crashes. As vehicles evolved and became faster, the crashes became more deadly. The response was to create a concrete barrier.
The first concrete barrier was just 18 inches tall and used on Dead Man’s Curve in California, but it helped to decrease the number of accidents. Now Jersey barriers are 32 inches high and 24 inches wide at the bottom. They have a curved shape and get narrower near the top.
Why is it Called a Jersey Barrier?
Sometimes referred to as a K-rail, Jersey Curb, or Jersey Wall, the concrete Jersey barriers you see at construction sites and in the center of highways help protect construction workers and drivers from out-of-control vehicles.
While California made the first concrete barrier, it was only 18 inches high and only mildly effective. States tried making their concrete barriers, but none were as successful as New Jersey’s barriers. The design that you see today is a modification of the barrier first made and used in New Jersey in 1955 on a dangerous section of US 22.
By 1959, New Jersey had tried 20-inch and 24-inch barriers, but they only stopped some accidents. Vehicles were able to “jump” these shorter barriers. In 1959, New Jersey developed a 32-inch barrier with a 24-inch base that met federal safety standards. This size barrier is what you see on highways today.
What are Jersey Barriers For?
Jersey barriers are used to control traffic and make highway and construction zones safer. You often see them blocking a construction site or diverting traffic into the opposite lane, between lanes on highways, especially where the highway is steep and curvy, and in parking lots.
In most cases, Jersey barriers are made of concrete, but they can also be made of plastic and filled with water. Jersey barriers are often precasted and delivered to the jobsite, but can be poured on site.
How Does a Jersey Barrier’s Shape Work to Deflect Traffic?
When a distracted driver drifts across the road, the resulting wreck can cause catastrophic injuries or even death. Simple walls cause vehicles to crumple, often flipping them, causing larger and more catastrophic accidents.
The angle of a Jersey barrier allows the vehicle’s tire to ride on the angled part of the wall, giving a driver time to correct.
The second part of the slope – the steeper part – protects vehicles that approach the Jersey barrier at a sharper angle. It lifts the bumper of the vehicle enough so that the tire connects with the lower slope and rides up the slope. The lifting reduces the friction between the tire and the pavement, which reduces the vehicle’s erratic behavior caused by friction.
How Carolina Traffic Devices Can Help
Keeping drivers, construction workers, pedestrians, and others working around highways or in parking lots safe is at the forefront of states’ and workers’ minds. When you need to divert traffic, keep traffic away from workers and pedestrians, or protect vehicles in one lane of traffic from entering the other lane, contact Carolina Traffic Devices to discuss your project and the number of Jersey barriers you need.
We have warehouses throughout the south, so we can get the Jersey barriers you need to your site quickly. Contact us and let us know how we can help – Carolina Traffic Devices.