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Crash-Tests of ET-Plus Guardrail Start Next Week

November 13, 2014 — ABC News reports that Trinity Industries will start crash-testing the ET-Plus guardrail next week, with a former business partner. Tests should be complete by January 2015.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) approved a revised plan that allows Southwest Research Institute, a San Antonio-based organization, to complete the tests. In the past, Trinity has worked with Southwest Research to develop highway products. Trinity says they are not longer paying royalties to the company.

Employees of the FHA will be allowed to visually witness the crash-tests, but they will not be allowed to videotape or photograph the tests. Instead, Southwest Research will tape the crashes.

Earlier this year, researchers at The Safety Institute and engineers at the University of Alabama analyzed eight years of crash-data from Ohio and Missouri. After comparing five guardrail end-terminal designs, the ET-Plus was linked to a 3-fold increased risk of death and a 36% increased risk of severe injury compared to the ET-2000.

Last month, a jury in Texas found Trinity liable for defrauding the federal government by failing to report design-modifications to the ET-Plus in 2005. Those changes saved about $2 in materials per guardrail, but may have made it more likely to lock up and impale oncoming vehicles instead of defecting away. The whistleblower, Joshua Harmon, claims Trinity has already concealed five failed crash-tests.

Today, California joined over 30 other states in banning further installation of the ET-Plus. If the crash-tests find the guardrail is defective, it is likely that states will have to visually inspect thousands of miles of roadway to determine where the guardrails are installed. At least 200,000 are thought to be in use throughout the nation.

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