The Ohio Department of Transportation came under the microscope amidst a flurry of controversy around ET-PLUS guardrails, manufactured by Dallas-based Trinity Highway Products. The agency recently joined the list of 35 states in removing the ET-PLUS from their list of approved products, following a federal investigation. This does not constitute a plan for removing existing guardrails from Ohio highways, and appears at odds with rhetoric coming from the ODOT.
The entire controversy began in 2012, when manufacturer Trinity Highway Products was sued by a whistleblower guardrail installer. The whistleblower claimed that Trinity made changes to their ET-PLUS without consulting the federal government or conducting required tests. These changes reportedly came in 2005. A jury found Trinity guilty in October 2014, and damages continue to mount.
The changes had potentially unforeseen consequences, according to a study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Headed by Dr. Kevin Schrum, researchers compared data from the ET-PLUS against the previous ET-2000, using Missouri and Ohio as sources. The study found that the ET-PLUS put drivers at a higher risk in the event of a collision. In Ohio alone, there were 60 “deadly and serious injury” crashes, five of which resulted in death. Four of those involved the ET-PLUS guardrail end.
A FOX19 Cincinnati investigation revealed that ODOT director Jerry Wray has “no evidence” of any malfunctions with the ET-PLUS guardrail end terminal. This is clearly contrary to the findings of the study, and indeed an ODOT spokesman said the data did not exist.
The Federal Highway Administration ordered Trinity to submit a plan for performing new crash tests for the ET-PLUS by October 31st. It is not yet known whether Trinity agreed to perform the tests or when they will.
Seriously Injured in an Accident Involving a Guardrail?
Our Guardrail Injury Lawyers are currently investigating serious and fatal guardrail accidents related to this untested guardrail design. If you or a loved one were injured in an accident with a guardrail, contact our attorneys to discuss your legal options. We offer a free, no obligation, case evaluation – Get Help Now 877-544-5323