Vehicle containment systems (VCS) are those elements that provide a certain level of containment to an out-of-control vehicle and reduce the severity of the accident by absorbing part of its kinetic energy and redirecting its path.
The main characteristic defining the performance of any VCS is its ability to prevent a vehicle that leaves the road from reaching an obstacle, a different level or risk element that it is intended to protect against.
Since 1 January 2011, all vehicle containment systems installed on roads in the European Union must be certified under a new harmonised Standard, UNE EN 1317. This text has greatly contributed to the road safety sector as it homogenises the testing methodology and acceptance criteria of VCS across the whole continent.
The ultimate aim of the Standard is to guarantee that any VCS installed:
- Ensures that the system contains the vehicle (without penetrating the system or overturning) – Containment level
- Slow downs deceleration to minimise injury to its occupants – Impact Severity
- Ensures that the vehicle will not fall down a slope, nor the vehicle or system impact any obstacle – System deformation
- Guarantees that the vehicle will not cross into other lanes – Redirection
The performance of a containment system against vehicle impact essentially depends on the geometric and mechanical characteristics of the system’s individual constituent elements and assembly, as well as the type of foundations used. These variables result in different containment systems, which are distinguished by the effects and consequences that a vehicle impact has on the vehicle, its occupants and the system itself
According to the result obtained in full-scale crash tests, the Standard allows the performance of the VCS to be classified through a series of technical parameters: