By: Allan M. Siegel
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is being urged by safety advocates
and victims’ families to rescind its regulatory approval of a faulty
guardrail system that has been linked to at least 7 confirmed deaths in
several states throughout the U.S. The guardrail in question is the Lindsay
X-LITE guardrail, which contains an end terminal that has been found to
malfunction upon high-speed impacts. Rather than buckling on impact and
redistributing forces to propel vehicles back onto the road, these guardrails
can actually penetrate vehicle cabins and cause devastating, fatal injuries.
X-LITE guardrail end terminals have been linked to at least 7 highway deaths
in the past two years, including one death in Virginia. One of the most
recent tragedies involved a 17-year-old Tennessee girl who was killed
instantly when her vehicle was impaled by a guardrail after colliding
into the median of a local interstate. In that case, the guardrails had
just recently been removed from the state’s qualified-products list
by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. However, a project to remove
and replace the faulty guardrails had not yet been started.
Here are some of the facts about the faulty guardrails and efforts being
made to address the hazards they create:
- The Lindsay Transportation Solutions’ X-LITE guardrail end terminal
has been linked to seven deaths in six crashes in Missouri, Tennessee,
and Virginia. State officials and experts have confirmed that the end
terminal failed to function properly in at least three of those crashes.
It is still unknown whether the guardrails performed correctly in two
of the remaining crashes.
- Despite connections between its guardrail end terminals and numerous deaths
and injuries, Lindsay has maintained that its products have been approved
for public use by the Federal Highway Administration after passing federal
crash tests. However, it was discovered that the crash tests were performed
at a lab owned by Lindsay Transportation Solutions.
- Due to the conflict of interest, advocates argue that there was a severe
lack of oversight by state and federal regulators.
- Advocates, families, and legislators are asking for the FHA to rescind
approval of X-LITE guardrail end terminals pending further investigation
of possible defects by the FHA.
- Lawmakers in states across the country, including Tennessee, have already
initiated efforts to remove the faulty guardrails from roadways with higher
speed limits and replace them with safer systems.
Defective guardrails are not new to American roads and highways. In fact,
one guardrail system – the Trinity Industries
ET-Plus guardrail – was recently linked to a number of injuries and deaths due dangerous
design defects. In a 2015
whistleblower case, Trinity Industries was ordered to pay $663 million in penalties
for defrauding the U.S. government.
Cases like the ET-Plus guardrail lawsuit make it clear that public safety
should always be the top priority for product manufacturers, especially
those that manufacture critical components of our roads and highways.
As advocates work to raise awareness about X-LITE guardrails and the fact
that it received federal approval based on tests performed in a lab owned
by its manufacturer, it will soon be seen whether the company will be
held liable for its failures to adequately test its products.
In addition to facing potential civil penalties, Lindsay Transportation
Industries will certainly face lawsuits from victims and families who
have been harmed or killed in crashes in which its guardrail end terminal
failed to function as it should have. These lawsuits are based on
product liability laws, which can hold product manufacturers accountable for injuries and
deaths caused by defectively designed, manufactured, and marketed products.
Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. is closely following this
case, and is offering our support and representation to victims who have
been injured or lost loved ones in crashes involving collisions with guardrails.
If you would like to discuss a potential case and whether you may be entitled
to compensation, our team is readily available to help. Our personal injury
lawyers serve clients throughout Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia,
and offer free and confidential consultations.
Contact us today.