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Concrete safety barriers

EUPAVE is proud to present the brochure on Concrete Safety Barriers. In this publication you will find, amongst others, the benefits of Concrete Safety Barriers, the History of Concrete Safety Barriers in Europe, a brief chapter on the European Standards: EN1317, etc.



Involvement in a road traffic crash is the leading cause of death and hospital admission for citizens of the European Union under the age of 45 years. With 39 000 road traffic deaths in 2008 and socio-economic costs of € 180 billion, road safety continues to be a priority area for action in the EU.

Although the actions taken so far have been effective in several Member States, the numbers of road fatalities remain unacceptably high. That is why the European Commission (EC) has adopted challenging plans to reduce the number of road deaths on Europe’s roads by half in the next ten years.

One of the seven strategic objectives, amongst others such as intelligent vehicles and better enforcement, is safer road infrastructure. The use of passive safety systems and, more specifically, road restraint systems undoubtedly contributes to higher safety. There will also be more focus on vulnerable road users, motorcyclists in particular.

Concrete barriers offer enhanced safety and reduced maintenance when compared with other systems such as steel and wire rope. With traffic volumes increasing across Europe, road authorities are realising the value of concrete systems in keeping opposing lanes of traffic segregated.
Concrete barriers fall into two categories. The first is factory produced pre-cast systems, whilst the second category is slipformed in-situ barrier systems.

Advantages & limits

Pre-cast barriers are ideal for temporary traffic situations such as the protection of the workforce during new construction or major maintenance. At the end of the contract, the barriers can be taken to storage or delivered to the next site. Pre-cast barriers are also used in tidal flow and temporary traffic control situations. Sophisticated linkage systems mean long runs of barrier can be achieved where deformation under impact is not an issue and pre-cast systems can be used in semi-permanent or permanent situations.

By contrast, in-situ concrete barriers are completely rigid and permanent. Their design life is in excess of 50 years. They are currently used in the central reservation of motorways and major roads where separation of traffic is of prime importance.


Barrier systems in Europe have to be tested in accordance with EN1317. This categorises them in terms of containment and working width. In-situ concrete barriers have varying levels of containment, but their working width is universally low. The barriers do not move under impact, but high vehicles may tilt after striking the barrier, so a measurement of this is made. For example, specified by the UK Highways Agency, the concrete step barrier has an H2 level of containment (13 tonne coach) and a W2 working width. It is replacing steel with N2 containment, W3 or W4.

In-situ concrete barriers are virtually maintenance-free. Even when struck by vehicles they rarely require repairs, unlike other systems which have to be repaired after each time they have been hit. This usually results in lane closures with all their associated traffic congestion and risks the lives of the workers repairing the barriers. Concrete barriers are increasingly seen as a way of ensuring free-flowing traffic on major routes as well as giving motorists the highest levels of protection. Motorcyclists also support concrete barriers because their smooth face contrasts with the dangerous posts and bolts that are characteristic of other systems.


  • Saving lives;
  • Eliminating crossover incidents;
  • Improving journey reliability;
  • Reducing congestion;
  • Minimising costs;
  • Lasting 50 years;
  • Motorcycle friendly;
  • Complying to EN 1317.

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