January 28, 2015 — The first eight safety tests involving the Trinity ET-Plus, an embattled guardrail, have been completed, 13News Now reports.
There is no word yet on the results of the crash tests, which could take months. It is also possible that more crash tests will be necessary.
A number of concerns have been raised, including the fact that most of the guardrails being tested are not the same as the controversial ones actually installed on roads. Another possible issue is that the tests are being conducted by a former business partner of Trinity.
The crash-tests were ordered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) after a jury in Texas found Trinity liable for defrauding the government by failing to disclose design modifications to the ET-Plus in 2005.
According to a whistleblower, those modifications could have made the ET-Plus more likely to jam up and impale oncoming vehicles instead of deflecting the guardrail away.
A study conducted at the University of Alabama by The Safety Institute found that crashes involving the modified ET-Plus were 36% more likely to result in an injury and nearly 3-times as likely to produce a fatality than the original ET-2000 design.
However, independent reviewers without ties to the guardrail industry questioned the methodology and conclusions of the study, which were called “inappropriate” and “questionable,” according to Bloomberg.
The Virginian Department of Transportation (VDOT) said they 69 out of 197 guardrail crashes involved the ET-Plus. They said the guardrail worked as expected most of the time, but conclusions were based on data with limited information about the circumstances in which the crash occurred.
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