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Faulty guardrails could be cause of several car accident deaths

Recent fatal guardrail crashes in Tennessee could be the fault of a design change initiated without the approval of the Federal Highway Administration. A whistleblower reported that Trinity, the company that produces most guardrails on highways, modified the design specifications of their guardrails. This may have been the cause of a death in Campbell County in 2013 and others across the U.S.

The death of a woman in Campbell County on Interstate 75 after her vehicle hit the end of a guardrail resulted in a federal lawsuit, and more than 40 suits have been filed in Tennessee against Trinity due to guardrail devices. The end terminals in the guardrails are meant to absorb the energy of a collision and slow a vehicle down away from traffic, but these black and yellow striped terminals have a shortened width and can impale vehicles.

The ET-Plus is a newer line of guardrails made with less steel to save money, but a guardrail engineer and whistleblower who documents ET-Plus accidents says the model has caused deaths. The guardrail design changed in 2004, and more than 10,000 of the new end terminals are installed along Tennessee highways. The Tennessee Department of Transportation believes that most of the 1,441 end terminal accidents since 2012 that resulted in death or injury involved an ET-Plus. TDOT has no plans to recall the ET-Plus yet, but more of these guardrail devices cannot be installed in the future.

While many preventable motor vehicle accidents take place because of the actions of motorists, manufactures or government agencies could also face responsibility when negligence causes injury after a crash. When dangerous products hurt people, the makers of the items could be liable for the expenses that victims or their families incur due to an accident.

Source: WATE, “Whistleblower says guardrails in Tennessee could be fatal”, Hailey Holloway, November 19, 2014

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