The U.S. government has accepted Trinity Industries’ plan for testing its guardrails systems that have been accused of malfunctioning and locking up when struck by oncoming traffic, spearing through vehicles and impaling motorists. The Federal Highway Administration (FWHA) ordered the tests in October, shortly after Trinity was found guilty of failing to report potentially dangerous design changes to its guardrails.
Free Guardrail Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been injured in a guardrail accident, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit against the manufacturer of the guardrail and we can help.
What’s the Problem?
FHWA has said that it will observe the Trinity guardrail crash tests, which till take place between Nov. 2013 and Jan. 2014. In the meantime, the agency has approved the ET-Plus guardrail end terminal for federal reimbursement, even as state officials have raised concerns. More than 30 states have suspended installation of the devices until testing is completed.
Gregory G. Nadeau, acting administrator of the FHWA, has estimated there are about 200,000 Trinity guardrail units installed on highways and roads around the country. However, Nadeau cautioned this figure may change because some states do not have complete inventories of their guardrail installations.
The guardrail systems are supposed to work by collapsing when hit by oncoming traffic, ribboning out and absorbing the impact of a crash. The end terminal, often marked with yellow and black paint, is designed to slide along, pushing the guardrail out of the vehicle’s path. However, in 2005 Trinity reduced the channel behind the head by an inch (5” to 4”), which causes it to jam, state officials have said. When this happens, the guardrail can spear through vehicles and their passengers.
After the FHWA released Trinity’s test plan, attorneys for whistleblower Joshua Harman and some guardrail accident victims fired back, arguing that it was inadequate. In the real world, they claimed, drivers have been colliding with the guardrails from an angle of about 5 degrees, rather than dead-center, but the FHWA is not requiring such tests.
During Harman’s trial, it was revealed that Trinity and its research partner, the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), performed 5 additional tests of a modified ET-Plus in 2005 and 2006, and never informed government officials. All 5 tests failed.
Trinity claims the failed tests were only an experiment to determine whether ET-Plus end terminals with a more “flared” design would work, and that the new style was never mass produced. Harman’s attorneys argued that the tests show vulnerability in ET-Plus units on the road. FHWA said on its website that it is assessing requests for low-angle testing, and will consider whether new tests are warranted.
Do I Have a Highway Guardrail Lawsuit?
The Product Liability Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Highway Guardrail Lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new guardrail injury and death cases in all 50 states.
Free Highway Guardrail Lawsuit Evaluation: Again, if you or a loved one has been injured in a guardrail accident, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a Guardrail Suit and we can help.