Everything You Need to Know About Crash Test Ratings

A crash-tested gate preventing unauthorized access

If you look outside any secured facility, you’ve likely seen crash-rated equipment like bollards and barriers. You will find them situated near access points to serve as protection from vehicle intrusion. Some are in place to prevent vehicles from accidentally going into off-limit areas, and others can stop large vehicles from ramming into high-security areas at fast speeds.

Related: Vehicle Barriers: Everything You Need to Know

Crash-test ratings and testing standards are how we ensure our properties are protected.

Crash Ratings: K, M, and ASTM

The first standards were called K ratings, which the Department of State developed in 1985. They worked well enough, but post 9/11, security barriers’ ability to stop high-impact collisions came into question.

Meanwhile, the American Society for Testing and Materials introduced its M rating system to measure how far a vehicle could penetrate a security barrier at various speeds and weights.  The M rating tests a barrier’s ability to stop a 15,000 lb. vehicle at 30, 40, and 50 mph speeds.  In 2009, the Department of State adopted the ASTM ratings, mostly overtaking previous crash test ratings.

High-Speed vs. Low-Speed Crash Test Rating Standards

Different crash test ratings focus on various classifications, offering information based on things like weight, support structures, and speed. For example, the potential for a vehicle to penetrate security barriers rises with weight and speed. Depending on the barrier, it may need to stop vehicles moving at high speeds or prevent access at low speeds.

Low-speed incidents are common for storefronts and other commercial buildings that regularly get a lot of traffic. On the other hand, high-speed incidents often occur at businesses or government facilities next to interstates or ones that someone may target for terrorist activities. These include financial institutions, stadiums, military bases, data centers, embassies, energy facilities, and places with a high volume of people or some type of “critical national infrastructure”.

ASTM standards include F3016 for low-speed impacts and F2656 for high-speed impacts. These crash test ratings become more of a matter of security rather than safety. Low-speed testing involves protecting storefronts and pedestrians from stray vehicles. On the other hand, high-security buildings need the ability to stop large, heavy, fast vehicles that may have malicious intent.

ASTM Crash Rating Standards

A large truck that ASTM F2656 aims to stop

You should be aware of three major ASTM standards: F265-07, F3016, and F3016M.

F2656-07 is intended for anti-ramming purposes. It covers high-security requirements, like financial institutions, government buildings, and military areas. It makes high speed and vehicle weight important crash testing components. These test standards work with speeds from 30 to 50 mph.

F3016 standards were developed as a repeatable way to apply rating designations based on a vehicle’s impact on security devices like barriers, fences, and bollards. They use surrogate test vehicles that include impactor zones on their nose and a Target penetration rating. These standards include crash test ratings for vehicles of varying sizes and speeds. F3016M is a common rating and references medium-duty vehicles weighing 15,000 lb.

Related: Common Physical Security Threats

K & M-Rated Security Equipment

K ratings are based on the penetration distance of a front bumper past the security barrier. These barriers include fences, gates, and bollards. Since creating K ratings, M ratings have also emerged and focus on payload distance. M ratings are developed using ASTM crash testing standards. Both of these ratings involve 15,000 lb, medium-duty vehicles.

While K ratings are commonly used in industry talks, M ratings are typically more helpful.

There are also WK ratings, which are from the ASTM but are still under development; these ratings address errant vehicles and include items like gates, planters, barriers, and more. In addition, these standards cover low-speed vehicles in situations that others may not consider with high-security applications, which could allow smaller vehicles entry if not spaced properly.

K Rating Codes to Know

The Standard is SD-STD-02.01 and it defines a fixed weight vehicle at 15,000lbs at various speeds;

1. K12 – 50mph

2. K8 – 40mph

3. K4 – 30mph

ASTM Codes & Models to Know

ASTM standards are categorized in different ways, including weight, speed, and penetration distance.

Low-Speed ratings based on 5,000 lb vehicles include three subcategories:

  1. S10: This test performs at 10 mph and has a 9-18.9 mph permissible speed range.
  2. S20: This test performs at 20 mph and has a permissible speed range of 19-27.4 mph.
  3. S30: This test performs at 30 mph and has a 27.5-32.5 mph permissible speed range.

Penetration tests for low-speed vehicles include the following:

  1. P1: Less than 1 foot
  2. P2: One to four feet
  3. Failure: Over four feet

There are four sections for high-speed crash codes. These categories are:

  1. C: Small cars up to 2,430 lbs
  2. PU: Pickup trucks weighing up to 5,070 lbs
  3. M: Medium-duty trucks up to 15,000 lbs
  4. H: Heavy vehicles up to 65,000 lbs

High-speed penetration ratings are as follows:

  1. P1: Under 3.3 feet
  2. P2: 3.31-23 feet
  3. P3 23.1-98.4 feet

These standards were developed to protect buildings better. Before adopting ASTM ratings, it was difficult to know the strength of your barriers or how to purchase one appropriate for your facility.

Another benefit of these standards is that they consistently created a practical way to test physical barriers’ actual stopping power. It’s now an industry standard to make safe equipment that everyone can rely on, and for high-security needs, the ASTM ratings addressed many things not covered by the old K ratings.

Protect Your Property With Crash Test-Rated Equipment

A construction barrier with warning lights

Now that we’ve covered all of that crash test rating info, you can make a better-informed decision about which physical barriers you need to implement for your site. It’s important to assess different threats, traffic patterns, and the distance from your security barriers.

These factors will help you choose bollards, gates, and barriers that are appropriately rated for the penetration distance, speeds, and vehicle sizes that your facility needs protection from; you should only purchase certified security barriers to ensure that they are tested to the correct crash ratings.

If you’re looking for more info about crash test ratings or need help identifying which physical barriers will work best for your site, reach out to our team. If you know what equipment you are looking for, you can browse our selection of crash test-rated security equipment.

Related: Different Resistance Barrier Technologies

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