Difference Between Passive & Active Barriers

B & B Roadway Security Solutions: The Difference Between Passive and Active Barriers

Whether you are managing traffic flow or providing security for a government facility, there are many uses for active and passive vehicle barriers. Active and passive vehicle barriers provide safety and security for sites and assets. But what are the differences? 

We’ll examine the different types of active and passive barriers and how to assess which barrier is right for your facility or project.

What Are Active Barriers?

Active barriers are typically used at access control points where individuals or vehicles are checked for credentials to enter. Active barriers have moving parts that allow entry and must provide continuous operation for protecting the facility. Active barriers can be manually operated, electronically operated, or automated

Active barriers must provide continuous operation, and so they have higher maintenance requirements and may require active personnel to operate. 

Benefits of Active Barriers

There are several benefits to active barriers:

  • Regulate entry into a facility 
  • Can be activated to stop breaches
  • Can stop moving vehicle attacks
  • Serve as a deterrent for hostile intent 

Related Link: Drop Arm Barriers

Types of Active Barriers

The most common types of active barriers include:

  • Gates. This is an operable part of a fence that mounts on wheels or hinges for entry.
  • Traffic control arms. While a common deterrent for passage, these barriers have no stopping power for security.
  • Wedge barriers. These are the steel plates that angle upward to stop a vehicle when activated. Usually, they are flush with the ground for traffic to pass over.
  • Retractable bollards. These bollards are generally left up because they are used in areas with less activity.
  • Crash arm barriers.  These types of arms are reinforced and provide both stopping power and can be used for access control.  
  • Barrier-net systems. Attached to vertical steel supports, these nets can span large openings and are used for perimeter coverage.

Are you looking for an active barrier system for your facility? BBRSS offers the highest quality active barrier systems that can be customized to meet your site’s requirements.

Related Link: Surface Mount Barriers

Passive barriers have no moving parts, like a fence.

What Are Passive Barriers?

Passive barriers are barriers that have no moving parts. The barrier must be able to stop or deter threats on their own. Passive barriers absorb energy and transfer the energy to their foundation.

Passive barriers can be individual barriers or part of a more extensive passive barrier system. And passive barriers can be transportable or permanent, depending on the system. 

Benefits of Passive Barriers

There are several benefits to passive barriers:

  • Provide perimeter security
  • Require little to no maintenance once installed
  • Deter attacks and breeches
  • Can be integrated into decorative landscaping and street furniture.  

Types of Passive Barriers

There are two types of passive barriers: fixed barriers and re-deployable barriers.

Fixed Barriers

Fixed barriers are often permanent barriers that can stop moving vehicles. The most common fixed barriers are:

  • Chain-link/Ornamental fences. These fences can be reinforced with high strength cables for a more robust deterrent to stop moving vehicles.
  • Concrete walls. Height, thickness, reinforcement, and foundation depth all contribute to effectiveness.
  • Cable barriers. Plow steel cables anchor between two concrete points for security and are often used with fences.
  • Bollards.  Deep mount or shallow mount bollards provide pedestrian access while deterring and preventing vehicle intrusion.  

Re-deployable Barriers

These barriers are movable passive barriers. Common re-deployable barriers include:

  • Jersey barriers. Non-anchored barriers are effective at creating standoff barriers but won’t stop a ramming vehicle. Median barriers are Jersey barriers.
  • Large planters. If made of concrete, planters improve curb appeal while being effective barriers.
  • Boulders. A natural, difficult barrier. Boulders take significant effort to move.
  • Relocatable Crash Barriers.  These active barriers provide crash rated protection and can be towed or placed into position by a forklift or crane.  Often used in temporary security applications and can be ran from a dedicated power source, battery and solar powered systems.  Portable Barriers provide flexibility in establishing temporary perimeter protection. 

Other Types of Passive Barriers

  • Ditches. When dug at a sufficient depth, width, and steep slope, they are effective against most vehicles.
  • Berms. When properly configured, berms are also an effective natural deterrent.
  • Trees and large bushes. Trees and bushes make great natural barriers that can be in concrete planters or in the ground.

Active Vs. Passive

Whether you choose to use active or passive barriers will depend mainly on your site characteristics, operational constraints, and security level. You’ll want to perform a site assessment that analyses:

  • The site’s physical characteristics such as structures, roads, terrain, perimeter, and landscaping
  • Traffic engineering studies for the area
  • Underground utilities
  • Environmental constraints
  • Planned changes around the facility

Depending on the security level your facility needs, you may also want to perform a security assessment. This assessment will examine:

  • Overall security needs
  • Perceived threats
  • Perceived vulnerabilities
  • Security solutions 

By assessing your site’s needs, you’ll be able to identify barrier requirements, which could be active, passive, or both. Different barriers offer different levels of security with varying crash test ratings. For high-security sites, you’ll want to use a combination of active and passive barriers to protect your facilities.

Which Barrier Is Right for You?

Active and passive barriers are excellent safety and security solutions to protect your assets and facilities. These barriers also manage and regulate traffic flow and protect employees while they work on road projects. Depending on your project or site, you may want to use temporary or permanent barriers that are either active, passive, or both.

BBRSS is the premier solutions provider of perimeter protection and managed lane products. We design, manufacture, and distribute crash-rated passive and active vehicle barriers.

BBRSS’ B&B ARMR division is the industry leader of crash barrier systems offers a variety of active and passive vehicle barriers. B&B ARMR provides excellent defense solutions for national security, economy, public health, and safety.

BBRSS’ B&B Roadway provides superior managed lane barrier systems, including warning gates, resistance barriers, and navigational lighting solutions for moveable bridges, reversible lanes, and roadway closure systems. 

Do you need to add active or passive vehicle barriers to your site? Contact BBRSS to customize a safety and security barrier system that meets your needs.

Related Link: Perimeter Security Applications



Request more information