National Academies Press: OpenBook

Guidelines for Traversability of Roadside Slopes (2019)

Chapter: Chapter 8 - Slope Traversability Guidelines

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Page 126
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Slope Traversability Guidelines." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Guidelines for Traversability of Roadside Slopes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25539.
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Page 126
Page 127
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Slope Traversability Guidelines." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Guidelines for Traversability of Roadside Slopes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25539.
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Page 127
Page 128
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Slope Traversability Guidelines." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Guidelines for Traversability of Roadside Slopes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25539.
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Page 128
Page 129
Suggested Citation:"Chapter 8 - Slope Traversability Guidelines." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Guidelines for Traversability of Roadside Slopes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25539.
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Page 129

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126 An errant vehicle that encroaches onto the roadside is faced with the risk of rollover due to the presence of roadside slope. In general, the steeper the roadside slope, the higher the probability of vehicle rollover. It is thus important to select the roadside slope by taking into consideration the associated risk of vehicle rollover. Rollovers occur on all slopes, including a flat terrain or a nearly flat slope, such as a 1V:10H slope. Similarly, there are many encroachment scenarios in which a rollover may not occur even on a very steep slope, such as a 1V:2H slope. In this research, by simulating a large number of encroachments on different roadside slope configurations, vehicle rollover probabilities were determined for different roadside slope conditions. These rollover probabilities serve as a metric to determine and compare the RR of the different roadside slope configurations. 8.1 Slope Configuration There are three key design variables that influence the probability of vehicle rollover on a roadside slope. These are the width of the shoulder, the foreslope, and the width of the fore- slope. A combination of these design variables determines the probability of a rollover for an encroaching vehicle. Thus for a given roadside slope, the rollover probability varies based on the other two design variables (i.e., the width of the shoulder and the width of the foreslope). Figure 8.1 shows the slope traversability guidelines that can be used to determine the vehicle rollover probability for a given combination of roadside design variables. The effect of shoulder width can be aggregated into two types of shoulders—a narrow shoulder that is 4 ft or less than 4 ft wide (Figure 8.1a) and a full shoulder that is more than 4 ft wide (Figure 8.1b). Once the appropriate chart is selected based on shoulder width, rollover probability can be determined using a combination of the foreslope and the width of the foreslope. In selecting the width of the foreslope, it is recommended that the designer should select the nearest width that is shown on the plots. Because of very high rollover probabilities, slopes steeper than 1V:3H are not included in the guidelines and should be avoided. Vehicle rollover probability on a given slope can also vary based on a combination of other design parameters. For this reason, a single rollover probability cannot be ascribed to any particular slope. To use the slope traversability guidelines, a designer should first decide on an acceptable level of risk based on rollover probability. It can be seen from Figure 8.1 that even for the mild 1V:10H slope, the probability of rollover varies roughly from 9 to 13 percent. Thus a designer or a user agency can select an acceptable rollover probability based on site conditions or as a matter of design policy. This acceptable level of risk based on rollover probability can then be used to determine if a particular slope condition is acceptable or not. In addition to rollover probability, a designer or user agency may use Figure 8.2 to determine the probability of a vehicle returning to the roadway after having encroached on a given slope C H A P T E R 8 Slope Traversability Guidelines

Slope Traversability Guidelines 127 (a) (b) Figure 8.1. Slope traversability guidelines for rollover probability for (a) a narrow shoulder (4 ft or less than 4 ft wide) and (b) a full shoulder (more than 4 ft wide).

128 Guidelines for Traversability of Roadside Slopes (a) (b) Figure 8.2. Slope traversability guidelines showing the probability of vehicle return to roadway for (a) a narrow shoulder (4 ft or less than 4 ft wide) and (b) a full shoulder (more than 4 ft wide).

Slope Traversability Guidelines 129 configuration. While rollover probability on a particular slope should be the primary factor in deciding the acceptable level of risk, supplemental information about the percentage of vehicle returns for that slope can be helpful in making this decision. 8.2 Example Use of Guidelines An example of how these guidelines can be used in a practical design scenario is pre- sented here. 8.2.1 Problem A roadside slope of 1V:4H is needed with a 32-ft wide foreslope. In one case the shoulder will be 6 ft wide whereas in another case it will be 3 ft wide. The user agency considers a 25 percent rollover probability to be acceptable for this design. It needs to be determined if this design will be acceptable using the slope traversability guidelines. 8.2.2 Design Considerations To determine the acceptability of this design, the first step would be to determine which of the two plots in the Figure 8.1 to use. For the 6-ft wide shoulder, the designer will use Figure 8.1b because it is for shoulders wider than 4 ft. For a foreslope of 1V:4H and a foreslope width of 32 ft, the associated rollover probability can be determined to be 16.5 percent. Because this is less than the acceptable rollover probability of 25 percent, the proposed design with a 6-ft shoulder is acceptable. The next step would be to determine the acceptability of this design for the 3-ft shoulder. In this case, Figure 8.1a will be used because it is for shoulders equal to or less than 4 ft wide. Again using the 1V:4H foreslope and a 32 ft foreslope width, the associated rollover probability can be determined to be 21.6 percent. Because this is less than the acceptable probability of 25 percent, the proposed design with the 3-ft shoulder is also acceptable. For illustration purposes, now consider the same problem with 1V:3H as the desired foreslope for the design. As before, for the 6-ft wide shoulder, Figure 8.1b is to be used. For the 1V:3H slope and a foreslope width of 32 ft, the associated rollover probability is 22.4 percent. Because this is less than the acceptable probability of 25 percent, the proposed design with a 6 ft shoulder is acceptable for the 1V:3H slope. With the 3-ft wide shoulder, the designer will refer to Figure 8.1a for narrow shoulders. For a 1V:3H foreslope and a foreslope width of 32 ft, the associated rollover probability is 26.2 percent, which exceeds the acceptable rollover probability of 25 percent. Consequently, this design is not acceptable with a 3-ft wide shoulder and 1V:3H slope. In this situation, the designer will have to consider using a shoulder greater than 4 ft, or reducing the slope.

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Geometric design practitioners in state transportation agencies have a new set of guidelines on probability of vehicle rollover based on various roadside design features. NCHRP Research Report 911: Guidelines for Traversability of Roadside Slopes will assist practitioners in the reduction of serious injury crashes associated with rollovers on roadside slopes.

Data from the National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) Crashworthiness Data System (CDS) shows that one-third of single-vehicle run-off-road (SVROR) crashes result in rollovers—the leading cause of fatalities in SVROR crashes. Three-quarters of these rollover crashes involve vehicles digging into the ground on embankments or in ditches after encroaching onto the roadside. Additionally, according to NASS data, pickup trucks, utility vehicles, and vans are overrepresented in rollover crashes due to higher centers of gravity. An increase in the percentage of light trucks in the vehicle fleet necessitates additional research and updates to the roadside safety guidelines.

The researchers conducted 43,000 simulations for various combinations of roadside slope configurations and geometric conditions that represent real-world crash scenarios.

The results helped to produce this guidance on the traversability of roadside slopes for a variety of roadside conditions—shoulder width, foreslope, and foreslope width. The guidelines are presented as probability of vehicle rollover that is defined as a function of various roadside design features.

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