Why Are Crash Cushions Important?

Why are crash cushions important? Blog cover

Why Are Crash Cushions Important?

Workers, pedestrians, motorists, cyclists and road-users alike depend on the intricate design of crash cushions (attenuators). So what are attenuators? You’ve certainly seen them before. RPM Hire provides an improved and innovative alternative to the filled attenuator called the Smart Crash Cushion. We’re going to discuss the importance of crash cushions, the physics behind their practicality, and how RPM Hire’s Smart Crash Cushion deliver improved benefits compared to your average Impact attenuator types.


What is a Crash Cushion?

Crash Cushions service as a road barrier with higher energy absorption.  Without taking you back to high school physics and boring you with dry equations, a basic touch up is the easiest way to understand how our Smart Crash Cushions work.

 A vehicle’s energy is generated by its velocity and weight. An increase in either of the two forces and a more considerable amount of force is required to decrease the vehicle’s momentum. This is what breaks are for! A similar principle applies to attenuators. While car breaks disperse momentum slowly, it’s not always the best-case scenario; that’s why RPM Hire has created the Smart Crash Cushion to act similarly, absorbing the momentum compared to, say, a brick wall that won’t be so kind. 

The cushion collapses through mechanical and hydraulic design, receiving the energy and significantly reducing impact, creating a safer experience for all motorists.


Why Are Crash Cushions Important?

Our Smart Crash Cushions are best utilised in particular zones prone to crashes like bidirectional traffic, two-lane roads with crossover potential, exit ramps and construction zones. With the MASH Test Level-3 impact rating, crash cushions are an essential piece of traffic equipment. 

As we mentioned earlier, due to the hydraulics and mechanics of the attenuator, they are specifically designed to absorb kinetic energy, decreasing the vehicle’s speed immensely and ultimately preventing fatalities or serious injuries. 

So we know why the design of crash cushions is important, but the primary reason is the severity of the Australian Crash Statistics.  From May 2020 – May 2021, there were 1125 fatalities (The Australian Government – Statistics and Safety). That’s a 2 % increase from the previous period, and most of the country was in lockdown! With tireless persistence from our engineers and manufacturers, RPM Hire and many other companies strive to make Australian roads safer, ultimately contributing to lowering the number of deaths every year. 


Why Crash Cushions Get Hit?

There are many reasons as to why crash cushions get hit, and to scathe the surface would take pages of data, physics, and, well, human psychology. We’ll touch on a few factors that contribute to a pattern of road accidents around areas that have or SHOULD have impact attenuators.

As we mentioned earlier, it’s common to see attenuators guarding a highway turn off. As the natural formation of the exit forms a V-shaped fork in the road, you can imagine why an attenuator is required. The physicality of the road is not the only part to play. Drivers that may not know the area so well or who are distracted by either their phone, navigation system or passengers may act irrationally around highway exits. If the motorists turn a second too late, they rely on the crash technology that stands between them and a concrete wall. 

Though fatalities are decreasing every year, giving the constant influx of safety technology on our roads and in our cars, are they decreasing fast enough? Distracted driving is becoming more frequent, with 29 fatalities and 1284 injuries, and as you can imagine, it’s hard to formulate realistic statistics as most won’t admit being distracted.

As the world continues to shift online, our phone and internet presence is required around the clock, whether it’s for work, social, or recreational purposes. But using a phone whilst driving is one of the most dangerous displays of negligent driving, and here is why. Physics shows us that if a car travels at a speed of 100 Km/ph on a wet road, it takes 42 meters of travel for the average reaction time to kick in and hit the breaks. It takes an additional 56 meters for the breaks to completely eliminate total velocity. Now, that 98 meters doesn’t include the time it takes to check a message and look at the road again. This is one of the many reasons why RPM Hire’s Smart Crash Cushions are integral to any bidirectional traffic zones, two-lane roads with crossover potential, exit ramps and construction zones. Speak to one of our industry professionals for further information on our roadside technology. 


What are the Benefits of RPM Hire’s Smart Crash Cushions?

With all this talk about our Smart Crash Cushions, let’s look at the key features and benefits that make this model stand out among the rest.

  • Resetting the Smart Crash Cushions is efficient, cost-effective, and reduces worker’s exposure to busy highways.
  • No mobilisation required after side impacts, this reduces public and worker exposure.
  • Durable and require very few replacement parts or repairs, saving on time and money.
  • The only variable force attenuator in existence gives the safest ride-down based on speed.
  • Designed for bidirectional traffic zones, two-lane roads with potential crossover, exit ramps and construction zones that may be frequent impact zones.
  • Increased safety for vehicle occupants and the work crew on the job.
  • The hydraulic and mechanical design absorbs the kinetic energy without deflecting the vehicle.
  • All impact energy safely dissipated within the system to protect the repair crew.
  • Tapered design to allow stress-free collapse of the system and easy reset.


Hopefully, we have provided clarity around the importance of Crash Cushions. In addition to the SMART crash cushion RPM Hire stock QuadGuard CZ, Raptor crash barrier, Absorb M, Absorb 350 and the SLED crash cushion.  If you have any more questions about the technology, dispense rate, or hire fees, feel free to contact one of our staff members for a chat

RPM Hire delivers a multitude of roadside equipment that prove integral to any worksite, construction zone, traffic control, and event control. To learn a little bit about the history and experience behind the team at RPM Hire, check out our About Page. Partner with RPM Hire; you’re in safe hands. 


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