Shakespeare Composite Structures™ has introduced the first full-scale tested composite distribution pole designed to absorb the energy of vehicular impact during collision. The new product can reduce the "ridedown" G forces in a collision to well within the TL-2 Device specifications. The new Tuff-Poles® are light weight for easy transport and installation and will retain all their initial strength throughout their long life.

"Shakespeare energy absorbing Tuff-Poles® are another application of the newest technologies in fiberglass and resin systems design, along with advanced manufacturing process controls," said Dr. Jim Davidson, vice-president of research and development. "We've been able to create and test these these complex designs in computer simulations, then observe them in full scale testing. Our computer models predicted what would happen with uncanny accuracy, and the result is a pole that meets or exceeds the design requirements."

"In 1999, there were 1,070 fatalities and 60,000 injuries related to utility pole crashes," he reported. "Our Tuff-Pole® design puts energy absorbing composite materials to work, to provide a solution to implementing safer utility poles." The design process included design development, finite element analysis, prototype manufacturing, developmental testing, and full-scale crash testing in accordance with safety performance test and evaluation criteria identified in NCHRP Report 350 (4).

The Shakespeare Composite Structures™ solution tailors the fiberglass reinforcement to introduce locally weakened zones at specific locations along the length of the pole. The manufacturing process is computer controlled to achieve the desired fracture behavior during impact without degrading the strength of the pole required for environmental loads.
In developing the new product, occupant risk criteria established in coordination with DOT/FHWA were in accordance with NCHRP Report 350 (4). The "preferred" limit for Occupant Impact Velocity (OIV) is 9 m/sec, and the "maximum" OIV is 12 m/sec, with "preferred" and "maximum" limits for Occupant Ridedown Acceleration at 15 G" and d 20 G's respectively. These values are a tiny fraction of those experienced with wood pole impacts. Shakespeare Composite Structures™ energy absorbing poles comfortably meet these criteria. For example, during full-scale tests, maximum occupant ridedown acceleration from a 70 km/h (43 mph) impact were 5.6 G's longitudinal and 0.9 G's lateral.