There have been some important questions about the safety of a design change in ET-Plus guardrail models manufactured by Trinity Industries, which have been put into use in every state in the nation. According to a report from the New York Times, fourteen states have already made the choice to ban the potentially unsafe guardrail end terminals from further use on highways, and more are expected to join after Trinity was ordered to pay $175 million in a federal lawsuit over the issue on October 27, 2014.
States That Have Already Enacted a Ban on Trinity ET-Plus Guardrails
Nevada was the first state to take action, enacting a ban on the guardrails on January 2, 2014. Missouri and Massachusetts also enacted bans in September, which were followed by a flurry of bans in states across the nation just this month:
- Virginia and Hawaii on October 10
- New Hampshire on October 21
- Oregon and Mississippi on October 22
- Colorado and Vermont on October 23
- Louisiana, Arizona, and North Dakota on October 24
- Texas on October 27
Virginia’s ban on the ET-Plus model is of particular note because the state also now—after Trinity failed to meet its request for evidence of planned testing—plans to start removing existing Trinity rail heads from its highways, while other states have only banned future installation of the defective guardrail. Texas, being the most recent state to join in the bans, is also notable because Trinity Industries is headquartered in Dallas.
Although some state transportation departments say they might consider banning or removing the potentially defective part at this time, administrative concerns can make the decision tricky. In some cases, the departments don’t have system in place to specify or record the brands of guardrails used in highway projects, and the part still remains on the approved product list used by states and their contractors.
Further Testing of the ET-Plus Model Could Affect State Bans
In the federal lawsuit, it was alleged that Trinity concealed the results of safety testing that showed the guardrail defect and the potential dangers to unsuspecting drivers and passengers in a wreck. In light of the federal lawsuit, state officials and the Federal Highway Administration have asked for Trinity to perform new testing on the ET-Plus rail head, and the results of that testing are likely to have a big impact on how other states react to pending ban decisions.
If you believe that a defective guardrail caused injuries in a crash or took the life of a loved one, you can get free and confidential answers by contacting our Texas legal team today—or, to simply keep up with the details as this story continues, you connect with the VB Attorneys team on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.