ET-Plus Guardrail Crash-Tests to Begin in Texas Next Week

ET-Plus Guardrail Crash-Tests to Begin in Texas Next WeekNovember 13, 2014 — The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) has quickly approved a plan for crash-testing the ET-Plus, a “shock-absorbing” end-terminal on guardrails.

The manufacturer, Trinity Industries, submitted a plan that says crash-testing will begin next week at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. The tests should be complete by January 2015.

According to ABC News, Trinity has worked with Southwest Research in the past to develop highway products. However, Trinity says they are no longer paying royalties to the company. The final plan allows the FHA to visually witness each crash-test, but they will not be allowed to record the tests with cameras or video equipment. Only Southwest Research will be allowed to tape the tests.

The Safety Institute and engineers from the University of Alabama have already warned that crashes with the modified ET-Plus are nearly three times as likely to result in death, and 36% more likely to produce a severe injury than the ET-2000. Conclusions were based on eight years of crash-data from Ohio and Missouri involving five different guardrail end-terminal designs.

If the ET-Plus is found to be defective, nearly every state will have to visually inspect thousands of miles of highway to determine where the guardrails are installed. An estimated 200,000 are currently in use on highways.

Today, California joined over 30 other states in banning further installation of the ET-Plus until the crash-tests are completed.

Last month, Trinity Industries lost a whistleblower lawsuit after a Texas jury found that they concealed design modifications in 2005. Those changes may have made the ET-Plus more likely to jam up, instead of deflecting the guardrail away from an oncoming car. Horrific injuries, amputations, and deaths have occurred when the guardrail impaled the oncoming vehicle instead of acting like a shock-absorber.

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