October 24, 2014 — The states of Oregon and Mississippi have joined four other states in banning further installation of the ET-Plus, a highway guardrail end-terminal, according to the New York Times.
Massachusetts, Nevada, Missouri, and Virginia have already stopped installing the ET-Plus pending safety investigations. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) may stop offering reimbursements for the products, which would curtail installation nationwide.
Last month, the Safety Institute released a study from engineers at the University of Alabama who found that the ET-Plus was 36% more likely to cause injury and nearly 3-times as likely to cause death compared to the ET-2000, an earlier model designed by Texas A&M.
Trinity Industries is facing at least a dozen lawsuits accusing them of changing the design on the ET-Plus without conducting crash-tests or notifying the government. They also say the new design is defective.
The design changes may have also made the ET-Plus more likely to jam up when hit in a head-on crash. Instead of absorbing the impact of the car and deflecting the guardrail away from the oncoming vehicle, critics say it causes the guardrail to buckle and act like a spear that impales oncoming cars and occupants.
Earlier this week, a federal jury in Texas found Trinity Industries liable for defrauding the federal government by failing to disclose design changes to the ET-Plus in 2005. The whistleblower who filed the lawsuit says the changes were made to save $2 in materials on each product, or $250,000 per year according to internal e-mails.
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