NASCAR Driver visits UNL to witness Test Crash and Research on ‘SAFER’ Barriers

June 5, 2018 - 3:44pm

After watching a Dodge pick-up smash into a highway safety barrier at over 60 miles an hour, NASCAR driver Michael Annett felt a greater appreciation for the research underway at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Midwest Roadside Safety Facility.

The accident was staged for visitors on hand to learn more about barriers designed in Nebraska to protect race car drivers and highway travelers.

The Steel and Foam Energy Reduction or ‘SAFER’ barriers are designed to protect race car drivers. Research and testing began in 1998 on these barriers and they are used at all high-speed NASCAR and IndyCar tracks around the country now.

The SAFER barriers are made up of three main parts, the impact plate, the foam energy absorbers and the nylon retention tethers. The impact plate is designed to safely redirect the vehicle and direct the impact energy to the foam energy absorbers. Those foam energy absorbers redistribute the kinetic energy created from the impact. The retention tethers help to keep the barrier in place after the first impact in case of more collisions.

Annett, an Xfinity Series racer for nearly 12 years, has hit those barriers more times than he can count. He talked about how important the research and development of the ‘SAFER’ barriers are to the sport of professional racing.

“Seeing the technology here and what these guys have come up with, probably, you know some of those hits I probably wouldn’t be standing here if it wasn’t for the SAFER barriers. So, I’m very fortunate for people here at the University of Nebraska in what they’ve done.” Annett said.

For Annett and other racecar drivers, the SAFER barriers have been a great safety addition to the sport. So far there have been zero fatal crashes when involved with the SAFER barriers at any professional racetracks.

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