January 28, 2015 — 13News Now reports that researchers in San Antonio, Texas have completed the first round of safety tests involving a controversial guardrail manufactured by Trinity Industries, Inc.
Most states have suspended installation of the guardrail while waiting for safety test results. Yesterday, the last of eight crash tests were completed.
A number of concerns have already been raised about the tests, including the fact that they were conducted by a former business partner of Trinity and most of the guardrails tested were different from controversial ones installed on roads.
Safety officials have not ruled out the possibility of another round of crash tests.
The crash tests were mandated by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), after a jury in Texas ordered Trinity to pay $175 million for defrauding the government by failing to disclose design changes to the ET-Plus.
The ET-Plus guardrail is a “shock-absorbing” end terminal that is supposed to deflect the guardrail away from an oncoming vehicle in a head-on crash. Whistleblowers allege that Trinity quietly changed its dimensions in 2005, shaving metal off a key component. This change may have made the guardrail more likely to jam up and impale oncoming vehicles.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) reported 197 crashes involving guardrails, and said 69 of them involved a Trinity ET-Plus. Regulators said they found the end terminal worked as expected most of the time, but the conclusions were based on limited data about the conditions in which the accidents occurred.
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