With crash tests of the controversial ET-Plus guardrail currently underway, many transportation officials are awaiting the results to determine the future of the device on the nation’s roads. One critic, however, says the crash tests should not be the determining factor in that crucial decision. In fact, whistleblower Joshua Harman says, the crash tests are not even testing the same model of ET-Plus that are currently installed around the country.
The difference lies in a small dimensional difference between a model released in 2012 and ET-Plus models created before that year. The 2012 model includes a heightened 5 inch metal piece that allegedly performs better in crash tests and is generally more safe than other models. This version of the ET-Plus is more expensive to manufacture, and courtroom documents revealed that Trinity Industries produced another model to cut corners. Those other models, with the unapproved 4 inch guardrail head, are “death traps,” Harman told reporters.
The Virginia Department of Transportation is the first in the country to announce steps toward removing the ET-Plus devices from their roads. A spokesperson told WSET.com that if any of the crash tests in Texas fail, VDOT will move forward with removing and replacing the defective models. That said, the process will likely take years. There are thousands of ET-Plus guardrail heads throughout the Commonwealth.
With four of the eight crash tests completed, Trinity Industries expects to finish up the testing process by the end of the month. If anything goes wrong in the remaining tests, it is likely more and more states will remove the ET-Plus from their roads and highways.