December 30, 2014 — Kansas and Missouri have joined about 40 other states in removing the ET-Plus from their list of approved highway guardrails, banning further installations until more safety testing is complete.
According to the Associated Press, a fatal accident occurred in January.
Bradley J. Abeln was driving behind a semitrailer when another driver to his left dozed off, drifted right, and slammed into Abeln’s 1987 Ford Bronco. Abeln spun and crashed broadside into the end of the guardrail, according to the Wichita Eagle.
The ET-Plus is a safety feature on the end of guardrails that is supposed to absorb the impact of an oncoming vehicle and deflect the guardrail away. Instead, the guardrail pierced the driver’s seat and ejected Abeln and his passenger.
A lawsuit was filed in June against Trinity Industries, the manufacturer of the ET-Plus. Earlier this year, a jury in Texas found Trinity liable for fraud for failing to disclose design modifications to the ET-Plus that may have made the guardrail more likely to lock up and impale vehicles.
An estimated 30,000 of the guardrails are installed on Missouri highways and nearly 400 in Kansas. The state of Missouri also partially funded a study that found the ET-Plus was significantly more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.
A study conducted at the University of Alabama by The Safety Institute examined crash data in Missouri and Ohio involving five different guardrail end terminals between 2005-2014. The ET-Plus was 36% more likely to produce a severe injury and nearly 3-times more likely to produce a fatality.
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