Two Standards at Odds in Evaluation of Potentially Dangerous Trinity Guardrail Modifications

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With the use of potentially dangerous ET-Plus guardrail hardware now coming into question at the federal level, the difference between two different sets of safety guidelines used by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has come up multiple times in the discussion. An older standard was used in approving the ET-Plus guardrails and later modifications, but some officials are now calling for a reevaluation under the newer criteria due to serious safety concerns. Here’s what you should know about these two systems used for FHWA approval of roadside safety equipment:    

  • NCHRP Report 350, "Recommended Procedures for the Safety Performance Evaluation of Highway Features." The NCHRP 350 is an older set of guidelines used by the FHWA, which were initially developed in 1993. Until 2011, the NCHRP 350 was the standard used by the FHWA in approving guardrail systems, including the Trinity ET-Plus and its modifications in 2005.
  • AASHTO Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH). In 2009, the old standards were updated, corrected, and modified with the more current guidelines under MASH. MASH went into effect as the new standard for any roadside hardware that is developed or submitted for federal approval after January 1, 2011, and it is considered the more rigorous of the two.

While the modifications to the ET-Plus guardrail end terminals were made in 2005, prompting the FHWA to use the NCHRP 350 criteria for any testing of the model, some officials have demanded that the FHWA conduct testing on the Trinity guardrails using the most up-to-date MASH standards. It is felt that, because of both the concealed changes in design and the numerous links to documented deaths and injuries, that the tougher testing and evaluation process is appropriate.   

For more information about Trinity guardrail concerns, or to start investigating your own family’s rights after an accident, you can contact our law office at 877-724-7800 or by using the live-chat service on this page.


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