March 16, 2015 — An embattled guardrail made by Trinity Industries has received a passing grade after a series of crash-tests, including one that severely damaged the driver’s door.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) released its analysis of eight crash tests, seven of which were “unremarkable” or “met the applicable crash test criteria.”
One test involving a 1998 Geo Metro slamming into the end of an ET-Plus guardrail at 60 mph caused the guardrail to buckle behind the end-terminal, forming a sharp elbow that bent the driver’s door inward by 6.75 inches.
However, the FHA said the damage was not likely to cause serious injury. However, attorneys say the agency is ignoring its own rules. According to the New York Times, guardrails are not allowed to “show potential for penetrating the occupant compartment.”
The guardrails have been under fire since last year, when a Texas jury found Trinity liable for defrauding the government by failing to disclose a design change on the ET-Plus that may have made it more likely to jam up and impale oncoming vehicles instead of deflecting away.
Since the original whistleblower lawsuit was filed in 2012, Trinity has been on an aggressive lobbying blitz, becoming one of the nation’s top donors to attorney general political causes:
“[Trinity] has contributed $300,000 to the Democratic Attorneys General Association and the Republican Attorneys General Association, after not donating in the two previous years.”
Trinity also made direct campaign donations to the 2014 political accounts of attorney general candidates in Oklahoma, Ohio, Alabama, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and South Dakota, among other states, according to the Times.
Only Virginia’s attorney general, Mark R. Herring, filed legal action seeking compensation if safety tests proved the guardrails to be unsafe.
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