January 8, 2015 — San Antonio local news KSAT has reported on the fourth out of eight safety tests involving a controversial highway guardrail.
The manufacturer of the ET-Plus guardrail end-terminal, Trinity Industries, is accused of secretly changing the dimensions of the guardrail from 5-inches to 4-inches to save money. According to whistleblowers, that change made the guardrail more likely to lock up and impale oncoming vehicles instead of absorbing the impact and deflecting the guardrail away.
The crash test involved a small Geo Metro that hit the guardrail head-on while traveling at 62 miles per hour.
The KSAT observer, Shari St. Clair, said it did not seem like the Metro was impaled by the guardrail, although the vehicle’s front bumper was damaged. She said, “The guardrail literally crumpled into kind of a zigzag pattern.”
Tony Furst, the administrator for safety for the Federal Highway Administration, said approximately 15 feet of guardrail went through the ET-Plus and it performed as expected.
Weather permitting, the next test is set for next Wednesday, January 14.
All of the tests are being conducted by Southwest Research Institute, a former business partner of Trinity Industries. Media presence has been strictly limited to two observers, who are not allowed to take photographs, videotape, or measure the guardrails being tested.
Even state highway officials have similarly limited access. Officials from Virginia have complained that many of the guardrails in the safety tests differ from those actually installed on roads. For example, the exit gap width has varied by as much as 25%. Only guardrails that were recently purchased from California are being tested.
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The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting Trinity ET-Plus induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been injured in a head-on crash with the end of a guardrail, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Accident & Personal Injury Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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