A crash attenuator is a device intended to reduce the damage to structures, vehicles and motorists when a vehicle leaves the roadway. The attenuator system typically connects to the end of a guardrail at the edge of the roadway shoulder. Crash attenuators are designed to absorb the colliding vehicle’s kinetic energy and control and redirect the vehicle in a safe manner. The approximate length of the entire crash attenuator system is 50 feet. This particular system has a narrow front face with a chute that resembles an elephant trunk. For frontal collisions, the system dissipates the vehicle’s kinetic energy and brings it to a stop.

Crash attenuator illustration

Illustration: Crash Attenuator

Crash attenuator photo

Photograph: Crash Attenuator

A: This crash attenuator impact head is relatively narrow and provides delineation to guide traffic to the roadway side. Upon frontal impact, the head moves backward, and the system flattens and extrudes the anchor rail that is contained within the system; this dissipates the energy of the vehicle and brings it to a stop.

B: The anchor rail of the system safely redirects the impacting vehicle when hit at the 3rd post and beyond.