Meet MASH Barriers & Traffic Safety Standards

Chris Keith

Chris Keith, October 10, 2022

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Meet MASH Barriers & Traffic Safety Standards

Ask a SONCO Pro About MASH & NCHRP

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 2020 marked a 16-year high in work-zone crashes. The year saw 102,000 accidents, which claimed the lives of 857 people and injured an additional 44,240. For highway managers and road construction teams, safety protocols and risk mitigation are full-time jobs.

Success starts with safety planning, whether you are filling a pothole or undertaking a major bridge project. When you choose barriers and guardrails to block hazards, line roadways or control oncoming traffic, be sure they meet national crash-test standards. MASH-approved jersey, water-filled and metal barriers protect people and keep you compliant with the latest safety guidelines.


FAQs About MASH & NCHRP-350 Compliance

Below, our SONCO safety specialists provide answers to common questions about MASH and NCHRP-350 requirements. You’ll also find information about work-zone devices and roadside safety.


What are MASH & NCHRP-350?

MASH and NCHRP-350 are uniform guidelines for determining the crashworthiness of temporary and permanent highway safety devices. MASH details guidelines for crash-testing equipment by measuring occupant risk, vehicle trajectory and structural adequacy.

  • In 2016, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) replaced the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Project’s Report 350. While some states may still allow NCHRP-350 compliance for traffic installations, most states adhere to NCHRP’s national sunset dates.
  • December 2019 was the final sunset date for NCHRP-350. After this time, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requested that all highway safety hardware be crash-tested to MASH’s 2016 edition.


Why did MASH replace NCHRP-350?

Unfortunately, NCHRP-350 failed to meet the conditions of today’s larger, heavier passenger vehicles. To solve this problem and improve highway safety, AASHTO and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) developed MASH.


What is the difference between MASH and NCHRP-350?

  • MASH used larger, heavier vehicles for crash testing.
  • MASH incorporates varied crash angles in addition to straight-on vehicle collision testing.
  • MASH includes crash testing for taller barriers than those covered by NCHRP Report 350.


What products fall under MASH crash-testing guidelines?

Products include temporary and permanent crash cushions, temporary plastic barriers, concrete barricades, median barricades, guardrails, bridge railings and other traffic control devices. SONCO sources MASH devices for a range of work-zone settings, and our safety specialists provide no-obligation consulting for crash-test and vehicle-safety compliance.


What is a MASH test rating?

MASH test ratings are based on the size and speed of vehicles for each category. The tested device undergoes a physical crash test to meet the manual’s criteria for where the vehicle lands, how it arrives there and what type of damage is incurred. Some MASH barriers and traffic equipment are approved for highway use, while others are approved for slower-speed areas. SONCO traffic professionals help you choose the best barricades and devices for specific work zones.

MASH Ratings:

  • MASH TL1 (31 MPH) — Passenger car & pickup truck
  • MASH TL2 (44 MPH) — Passenger car & pickup truck
  • MASH TL3 (62 MPH) — Passenger car & pickup truck
  • MASH TL4 (62 & 56 MPH) — Passenger car, pickup truck & single-unit truck
  • MASH TL5 (62 & 50 MPH) — Passenger car, pickup truck & tractor-van trailer
  • MASH TL-6 (62 & 50 MPH) — Passenger car, pickup truck & tractor-tank trailer

What are the legalities of MASH barrier testing guidelines?

AASHTO recommends MASH testing standards, but each state has individual traffic equipment and safety devices. MASH guidelines are not legally binding on the federal level, but MASH compliance is recommended for all construction and traffic safety professionals.

Do I have to use MASH-approved barricades to receive federal aid or accident compensation?

Some non-MASH barriers (post-2019) are eligible for U.S. aid and accident compensation. In addition, MASH approval does not guarantee the receipt of federal aid. The SONCO support team can provide more details.


Can SONCO help me set up a safe work zone?

Yes! SONCO is a U.S. authority on traffic safety, MASH barriers and highway crash tests, and we partner with hundreds of construction teams, highway management companies and road contractors. Dedicated to educating customers about the nuances of MASH vs. NCHRP-350, our traffic pros can assist with barricade selection, equipment implementation and work-zone safety tips.

To learn more about how SONCO road safety equipment saves lives and keeps you MASH compliant, don’t miss this blog post about demarcating traffic hazards and reducing highway accidents. For more information about MASH and NCHRP-350 standards, call or connect online today!

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