Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Malcolm H. Ray, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Leonard D. Albano, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Tahar El-Korchi, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

John F. Carney III, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Joseph J. Rencis, Committee Member




"The potential hazard of using curbs on high-speed roadways has been a concern for highway designers for almost half a century. Curbs extend 75-200 mm above the road surface for appreciable distances and are located very near the edge of the traveled way, thus, they constitute a continuous hazard for motorist. Curbs are sometimes used in combination with guardrails or other roadside safety barriers. Full-scale crash testing has demonstrated that inadequate design and placement of these systems can result in vehicles vaulting, underriding or rupturing a strong-post guardrail system though the mechanisms for these failures are not well understood. For these reasons, the use of curbs has generally been discouraged on high-speed roadways. Curbs are often essential, however, because of restricted right-of-way, drainage considerations, access control, delineation and other curb functions. Thus, there is a need for nationally recognized guidelines for the design and use of curbs. The primary purpose of this study was to develop design guidelines for the use of curbs and curb-barrier combinations on roadways with operating speeds greater than 60 km/hr. The research presented herein identifies common types of curbs that can be used safely and effectively on high-speed roadways and also identifies the proper combination and placement of curbs and barriers that will allow the traffic barriers to safely contain and redirect an impacting vehicle. Finite element models of curbs and curb-guardrail systems were developed, and the finite element program, LS-DYNA, was used to investigate the event of a vehicle traversing several curb types. Finite element analysis was also used in the analysis of a vehicle impacting a number of curb-guardrail combinations. The results obtained from these analyses were synthesized with the results of previous studies, which involved full-scale crash testing, computer simulation, and other methods. The combined information was then used to develop a set of guidelines for using curbs and curb-barrier combinations on high-speed roadways."


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Civil & Environmental Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





design guidelines, NCHRP Report 350, finite element analysis, impact, Curbs, guardrail, curb and barrier combinations, Curbs, Roads, Guard fences