After months upon months of litigation, rumors, and negotiation, the Federal Highway Administration has approved a retesting program for the ET-Plus guardrail. The guardrail, which has been suspected of being unsafe for some time, has recently been banned from installation in nearly thirty states out of concern for its safety.
The problem with the guardrails stemmed from a redesign in 2005. The rail head – the part on the front of most highway guardrails, distinctively painted with black and yellow stripes – is designed to slide along the guardrail, pushing the main structure to the side. A small channel behind the head was narrowed, say federal officials, which could cause the design to jam and the guardrail to piece the vehicle, injuring or even killing its passengers.
A whistleblower alleged that these changes were made without consulting the federal government. A jury in October agreed, ordering Trinity Highway Products to pay $175 million in fraud damages. These damages could be tripled under federal law. Testimony revealed that tests conducted at the time of the changes failed unanimously. Trinity insists these tests were merely experiments.
According to the New York Times, The Federal Highway Administration has ruled that the guardrails may be retested under old standards, since they were originally approved at that time. This has drawn backlash from politicians and from victims involved in the crashes who claim that the tests are too lenient. Another potential issue is that many drivers hit the guardrail at a slight angle, rather than straight on as will be tested.
For now, the guardrails have been re-approved for federal reimbursement when states install them. However, Trinity is no longer selling the product until tests are completed.
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