In a letter addressed to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), The Safety Institute offered the highlights of its recent study of ET-Plus guardrail end terminals. The study was requested by the FHWA as part of its efforts to determine if Trinity Industries, Inc., should continue to be eligible for federal highway funding. The guardrail model has been the focus of serious safety concerns in the last few years, and the guardrail end terminal has already been banned in almost every state in the nation. However, although the concerns are currently being reviewed by the FHWA, the guardrail remains on the approved list for federal funding.
History of Concerns That ET-Plus Guardrail Contribute to Highway Deaths and Injuries
The FHWA initially approved the ET-Plus model guardrail heads in 2000, but the report from The Safety Institute points out that the approval was based largely on testing conducted on a prior guardrail model, the ET-2000. In fact, even further modifications were made to the ET-Plus design when Trinity released the ET-Plus 31, and that model was also approved largely on the basis of the prior testing of the ET-Plus—which was largely based on testing of the ET-2000. The Safety Institute holds that all three models are significantly different enough that Trinity should have submitted additional details and sought approval of modifications. However, the ET-Plus was approved with potentially inadequate testing, and even when safety concerns arose, the action taken was inadequate.
The FHWA was made aware of Trinity’s undisclosed product modifications after receiving a complaint from Trinity-competitor Joshua Harman in 2012, which also included evidence of the link between the guardrail and fatal accidents and injuries. Harman filed a lawsuit over the potentially deadly guardrails in October 2014, claiming that Trinity made changes that were not disclosed or adequately tested before approval. That lawsuit was ultimately successful. While part of those claims was that Trinity had defrauded the government, the FHWA chose not to participate in the lawsuit.
Questions About the FHWA’s Reaction to Increasing Evidence of the Dangers of ET-Plus Guardrails
The Safety Institute mentions a history of reluctance on the part of the FHWA in investigating Trinity Industries and the complaints of safety issues with their ET-Plus guardrail model, despite increasing evidence that Trinity was deceitful about modifications and that the guardrail units were involved in numerous injuries and fatalities on the nation’s highways. The Institute urges state and federal officials to:
- Work together to take prompt action on the issue of the dangerous ET-Plus guardrails
- Implement better ways to track and analyze highway safety hardware
- Better protect the driving public from dangerous products
If you believe that unsafe guardrails may have a played a part in your accident injuries, don’t wait any longer to get answers. You can start investigating your rights today by contacting our law office at 877-724-7800 or using the live-chat service on this page.