Federal officials are initiating a national study to determine whether roadway guardrails are indeed as safe and secure as they appear to be in crash tests. The federal effort came after numerous accidents resulting in painful death and limb loss. Nicholas Artimovich, a Federal Highway Administration official, told ABC News…“We are supporting a national cooperative highway research program to look into the performance of guard rail terminals.”
Another key reason for the federal initiative is a new formal study’s findings that a widely used guardrail that was recently re-engineered…creates a significantly increased risk of injury and fatality for motorists.
The University of Alabama Birmingham conducted the study that scrutinized fatal & critical accidents in the states of Missouri and Ohio. The state of Missouri and the Security Institute, a non-profit advocacy organization, also cosponsored the study. Sean Kane, president of the board of directors of The Safety Institute said “We are seeing on-road failures that shouldn’t be happening,” stated Kane. “I have real concern about leaving them on the highways.”
The maker of the re-designed guardrail, Trinity Industries is being confronted with a series of lawsuits stemming from accidents involving motorists that were killed or lost legs when their vehicles crashed into the guardrails. The victims of the lawsuits are alleging that slight modifications to the original guardrail design transformed them into real roadside safety hazards. A mere, single inch reduction in one steel piece of the guardrail is being labelled as a major design culprit…making it into a life threatening roadside hazard.
The original design was invented by Dean Sicking, and has received credit for saving hundreds of lives since it was introduced in 1999. Sicking informed ABC News that design alterations were created in 2005 by Trinity…without telling him.
ABC News acquired internal company emails showing that Trinity engineers had calculated a $2 savings for the one (1) reduction in metal mentioned above…a key piece of metal that can make the difference between life and death.
Trinity denies the cost savings motive for the design alterations