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Crash barriers from Ostrava steel plant have helped to improve safety on Czech roads for 50 years

Ostrava, 5 June 2018 – It has been 50 years since the first crash barriers were manufactured in the Ostrava steel plant. Since 1968, the Ostrava steel maker has produced more than 45,000 kilometres of crash barriers, which would be more than enough for a trip around the world. Crash barriers from Ostrava form an essential safety feature on the majority of Czech roads. According to Czech Police statistics, crash barriers have largely contributed to cutting down the number of road accident fatalities by 38% and serious accidents by 49% in the Moravian-Silesian Region over the past 15 years.

On 10 July 1968, production of road crash barriers, which had been developed by the Research Institute of Transport in Prague, was launched in the then Nová Huť steel plant. Each year, the steel plant manufactures an approximate 1,000 km of steel road crash barriers. These find wide use on the domestic market (more than 50%), but also in Slovakia or Lithuania. The plant produces five types of barriers, including single-sided and double-sided safety barriers, vehicle parapets, and barriers with increased protection for motorcyclists, reaching up to a total of 33 types of road barrier systems.

"Over the last few years, thanks to our research and development, we were able to come up with a number of innovative solutions that brought further improvement to safety on Czech roads. These are, for instance, lighter barriers made from microalloyed steel that meet better safety criteria than steel barriers made of ordinary low carbon steel, or special barriers that protect motorcyclists from serious injuries," explains Richard Toman, head of Mine Supports and Safety Barriers at ArcelorMittal Ostrava.

Steel crash barriers from Ostrava as an essential safety feature on Czech roads

Before the crash barriers head for the roads, they have to undergo some technical testing including a crash test. Over the last 10 years, the steel plant has made 38 crash tests, which accounts for about 76 single crashes. The steel plant spends between 1,500,000 - 3,500,000 CZK on each test depending of the type crash barrier involved.

"Our duty is to test these products and then to ensure that only the most dependable ones will be placed along our roads. Crash barriers from Ostrava are not only high-quality and innovative, but also highly functional, such as the motorcyclist-friendly barrier, for instance. Passive safety sees continuous development in our country, which is crucial to us as the certifying institution," says Jiří Studnička, director of the Technical Engineering Services branch at the Technical and Test Institute for Construction in Prague, which administers tests of all safety barrier systems on Czech roads as the only testing centre in the Czech Republic.

Crash barriers help cut the number of fatalities and serious traffic accidents

The first and most essential safety feature on the road is proper behaviour of road users. This is the point, however, which is at the same time the least reliable. It is, therefore, necessary to pay attention to passive road safety, which is largely provided by crash barriers. These help reduce the number of fatalities and serious traffic accidents as they are installed at potentially dangerous spots or on roads with some rigid barriers nearby, such as trees or rocks.

"Over the past 15 years, crash barriers have helped reduce the number of fatal traffic accidents by 38% and serious accidents by 49% at dangerous road areas," Jiří Zlý, head of the traffic police department from Regional Directorate of the Police of the Moravian-Silesian Region, commented on the influence of crash barriers on traffic safety.

Current and past innovations to production of crash barriers in the Ostrava steel plant

Magnelis® = self-healing coating

Innovations include the application of Magnelis® coating, a new form of steel corrosion protection. Magnelis® protects the steel barriers twice longer than regular hot-dip galvanising, i. e. 40 years. This is possible thanks to its unique chemical composition which, besides zinc, also contains aluminium and magnesium. The most interesting feature of the new Magnelis® coating is its self-healing ability. It can protect the most stressed places such as cuts, welds and grooves from becoming attacked by corrosion. Before the steel begins to corrode, a protective film containing magnesium is created at the damaged spot to protect it from exposure to unfavourable weather conditions.

Crash barriers made of microalloyed steel offer lower weight and better safety parametres

In 2012, the steel plant developed a new range of road safety systems. These are made of microalloyed steel, which has higher firmness than regular low-carbon steel. This step enabled to reduce the thickness of material from 4 to 2.8 mm, thus saving more than a quarter in weight. Installing barriers on roads is easier as a result. Despite the save in material, crash tests have revealed even better safety parameters.

Motorcyclist-friendly crash barriers reduce the risk of fatal road accidents

A special crash barrier equipped with a lower beam was developed to increase the protection of motorcyclists. The lower beam prevents motorcyclists from underpassing the barrier, which has been the cause of many serious injuries. In case of an accident, the special crash barrier can also reduce the effects of the collision as it is able to absorb some of the motorcyclist´s kinetic energy. Motorcyclist-friendly crash barriers have been installed at selected potnetially dangerous sections of roads, such as prolonged bends. They currently flank tens of kilometres of roads all over the Czech Republic.

SMART barriers to deliver the first smart solutions

Between 2008 and 2012, the Ostrava steel plant co-operated with the university of Zaragoza in the development of the SMART crash barrier, which is a special barrier incorporating three types of sensors. The first sensor is able to estimate the current weather conditions at a given locality, the second one can point out to possible problems with passability of a given road section, and the third sensor is capable of sending out an emergency signal following a crash.

SMARTer - a successor to the smart barrier

Between 2015 and 2016, the Ostrava steel plant continued its co-operation with the university of Zaragoza and other partners to prepare a project of the so-called smarter road barrier using the latest technologies. The main tasks were to ensure primary, but also secondary and tertiary safety, including activation of a drone following a crash incident for the purpose of capturing and sending information about the current situation to the emergency services, as well as bilateral communication, data collection, energy self-sufficiency (solar panels) and possible integration with existing intelligent restraint systems.

ArcelorMittal Ostrava a.s. is part of the world’s largest steel and mining group ArcelorMittal. Annually it produces over 2 million tonnes of steel, which is mainly used in construction and machinery. It is the biggest manufacturer of road safety barriers in the Czech Republic. Besides the domestic market the company delivers its products to more than 40 countries around the world. In the Moravian-Silesian region, ArcelorMittal employs 6500 workers. The 2017 average monthly income was CZK 36 646. As a result of the completion of a range of above-standard emission control technologies, the company produces its products with the minimum possible environmental footprint. The sole shareholder is ArcelorMittal S.A.

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News release Barbora Černá Dvořáková - PR manager & Spokesperson >