A highway safety mechanism at the height of much controversy has been found along roads and highways throughout South Carolina’s Florence County. According to WBTW, investigators found dozens of the ET-Plus guardrail end terminals along the county streets. The ET-Plus has been known to malfunction, sending accident victims to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. It is currently under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, with the model undergoing crash testing to determine whether it is indeed safe enough for use.
When the ET-Plus guardrail is struck by a vehicle, the end terminal is supposed to push sharp guardrail edges backwards like an accordion. This ensures a safer landing for the passengers inside the crashing vehicle. Instead, the ET-Plus has been known to pierce oncoming vehicles, slicing through and injuring passengers. Some have lost limbs, others have lost lives. What’s most troublesome is that hundreds of thousands of these guardrails remain on roads throughout the country. Most states say they will await the results of the investigation before ordering the installation of a safer guardrail end terminal.
The manufacturers of the ET-Plus, Trinity Industries, insist that the guardrail works as designed. They stand by their product, in spite of reports that they cut corners on the ET-Plus’ design to save costs. The reduction in size of a crucial metal piece is likely the culprit behind the malfunction, experts say. Crash testing will continue this month, with the NHTSA expected to make a final call regarding the alleged malfunction after the testing is completed.