Crash Rated Systems

Access control systems are designed to provide added security to your residential or commercial area. High security, crash-rated access control systems are designed for commercial and industrial properties as a means to maintain traffic, deter intruders, prevent theft, and provide protection. The highest form of access control protection are crash-rated systems.


In high security areas that are both high-risk and high-threat, crash-rated systems may be required. Some of these areas include data centers, airports, warehouses and manufacturing facilities, event stadiums and centers, and high-profile facilities such as military, police, and FBI buildings. Crash-rated access control options are the most secure form of access control on the market, but these can cost tens of hundreds to thousands of dollars and can require ongoing maintenance and care to remain functioning and operational. Contact an expert from the American Access Company to find out if crash-rated, high security access control systems are right for your project or facility.


An infographic detailing the differences between crash rated levels M30, M40 and M50 (Also known as K4, K8 and K12)

When it comes to crash-rated access control, you need to ensure the product you are purchasing meets specific certifications and crash ratings to achieve the highest security. Crash ratings are determined by how heavy the vehicle is (in pounds), how fast the vehicle is traveling (MPH), and how far the vehicle travels after impact (P/L ratings). The chart below gives a breakdown on the difference in ratings following these guidelines:

American Access Company’s products fall into the P1/L3 and P2/L2 ratings, with most products offering less than 3’ of travel after impact.


A large industrial truck that has driven into a crash rated sytem

K-ratings are the old set standard of crash-rated certifications. These were developed in the 1980s, but revised in 2003 after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. K-ratings limited certifications to 50’ or less, meaning the bumper of a vehicle weighing 15,000lbs could reach up to 50’ after impact. M-ratings are the new standard of crash-rated certifications. With M-ratings, there is no limit to travel beyond impact, which is why the P4 certification was created. There are M-rating equivalents for the old K-ratings, so both may be seen on products.


You may notice all of American Access Company’s crash-rated products are certified. What does this mean? Crash-rated certifications indicate the product has been qualified and crash tested, and passed the testing to receive the M/K rating. If a product from a competitor says “crash tested” that means it was tested, but it did not pass the test. You may also see products from other companies that say “engineered,” this means the products were designed to meet standards, not certifications.


In the world of access control, there are two distinctions in products: Passive and active access control systems. Passive systems are products that stay in place while providing crash-rated security. Passive crash-rated systems are cable/railings/fencings and bollards. Active crash-rated systems are ones that move in order to provide crash-rated security. Active crash-rated systems include barrier arms, bollards and wedges. Each of these will be discussed below.

Two static crash rated bollards in the restricted area of a public road


Crash-rated bollards are both decorative and non-decorative passive and active security bollards that protect the perimeter of a building. Crash rated active barriers can rise in under two seconds to protect.  Not all bollards are crash-rated. In order to ensure the bollards are crash-rated, the product needs to be certified with a K or M rating, reach the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards, and have a live test performed at crash testing facility.

Crash rated barrier arms in front of an industrial facility


Barrier arms are available in both non-crash rated and crash-rated.  These arms are often the first line of defense at a facility’s entry point. Crash-rated barrier arms are an active site security option capable of stopping a multi-ton vehicle moving at high speeds. Like bollards, these certifications come from crash testing, ASTM standards, and K or M certifications.

Red and white striped crash rated wedges


Wedges are an active, discrete option for crash-rated security. Because the wedges go fully into the ground below, these are often unseen until the wedge is unveiled for security reasons. This makes wedges especially ideal for high-profile facilities. With all other crash-rated options, wedges need to meet ASTM standards and certifications after being crash-tested. Crash-rated wedges are also compatible with other forms of access control such as barrier arms, gates, and traffic lights.

Crash rated cable barrier system


Crash-rated cables are heavy duty metal cables that are wound for added durability. While these passive cables stretch, the strands do not break which prevents vehicles from penetrating the perimeter of the facility. Crash-rated rails are similar; however, these do not bend like the cables. Crash-rated fencing is a combination of cables, fence fabric and framework to create a fence that defends against vehicular impact and forced entry. Like all other crash-rated access control systems, these products need to pass ASTM certifications and standards.


After several terrorist attacks within our country, America learned the hard way that we need to provide better security to keep people safe. We learned the best way to defend an area or facility is to keep the intruder from getting close. In this process, crash-rated systems were developed, tested, and certified as a high-security defense system. Like many other security systems, crash-rated access control products are constantly being tested, redesigned, and improved.


American Access Company focuses solely on access control systems. As the Midwest’s largest reseller and installer of access control systems, the American Access Company team is full of experts who have been trained by the manufacturers to design, sell, install, repair, and maintain your access control system. American Access Company installs over five-hundred automated access control systems a year. Schedule your free estimate with our team of access control experts today!

We proudly offer these services and more in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Rochester, Minnesota; Kansas City, Kansas; Wichita, Kansas; Grand Island, Nebraska; Omaha, Nebraska; Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Des Moines, Iowa; Iowa City, Iowa, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.