Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

operations - performance, organisation - performance, mode - rail


W beams, Tension, Tensile strain, Tensile loading, Structural connection, Splicing, Site selection, Prototype tests, Placement (Location), Midspan locations, Location, Locating, Laboratory tests, Impact tests, Guiderails, Guardrails, Guard rails, Guard fences, Full scale tests, Finite element method, Finite element analysis, Fatigue failure, Failure, Design, Deformation, Crash tests, Collision tests, Bolts


Structural failure of post-and-beam W-beam guardrails during impact sometimes is due to the rupture of the W-beam rail where two sections are spliced together with bolts. Summarized is a study of the mechanics of failure of the splice connection. The causes of rupture are identified, and a design alternative is formulated that will reduce the likelihood of rupture of the splice connection. The tensile forces in the W-beam rail and the mode of deformation of the splice connection during impact were critical factors considered in the study. The results of full-scale crash tests, laboratory tests, and finite element analysis indicate that relocating splices to midspan locations would greatly reduce the chance of observing a rupture of the guardrail in full-scale crash tests and in real-world collisions.