Highway guardrails are installed to keep people safe in the event of an accident. Now, federal officials are claiming that some guardrails malfunction, turning the metal rails into giant spears that can pierce through a car and seriously injure or even kill the people inside.
The problem, it seems, comes from a manufacturing change that no one knew about. According to an article in the New York Times, Trinity Highway Products, which makes the guardrails, changed the design specifications of the rails–instead of the approved width of the guardrails’ feeding channel of 5 inches, Trinity narrowed it to 4 inches. The company made this cost-saving change without approval from the Federal Highway Administration…and yet has continued to receive federal money. This has caused the government to sue Trinity for improperly taking federal funds.
Worse, lawsuits in several states–including North Carolina–claim that the guardrails caused 5 deaths and many more injuries. Nevada, Massachusetts, and Missouri have banned purchases of the new guardrails.
While most people will, thankfully, never have direct experience with the malfunctioning guardrails, it is alarming to discover that something that is supposed to be a safety feature can actually make the aftermath of an accident worse.
HensonFuerst Attorneys is investigating and monitoring the effects of this guardrail problem. If you have experienced a motor vehicle accident and have questions about guardrail safety, feel free to call us at 1-800-4-LAWMED.