Texas Suspending Use of ET Plus Guardrails

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DALLAS - Texas is one of 40 states that has suspended the use of guardrails made by a Dallas-based company, due to safety concerns and lawsuits filed.

The "end terminal" caps built by Trinity Highway Products were first tested in 2005 and are currently used in more than 200-thousand different stretches of U.S. highways. The guardrail caps are designed by researchers at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute known as TTI and built by Trinity. The caps are the rectangle part at the end of the guardrail that's designed to absorb the impact of a crash.

This video is from our CBS affiliate in Kansas City Missouri.
It's video from Trinity, the maker of the ET-Plus guardrail system, which shows wooden posts breaking off, one by one and the guardrail collapsing like dominoes to stop the car. However, that didn't happen for one North Carolina man who was seriously injured when his SUV hit a guardrail that went "THROUGH" his vehicle and severed both legs.

Another man was killed when his vehicle was forced into a guardrail -- ejecting him.

A lawsuit filed says Trinity made undisclosed design changes to the guardrails made in 2005 that caused them to go through the car and impale drivers.

A series of tests on the Trinity's ET plus guardrail systems were conducted last month in San Antonio and it appeared that the guardrails worked the way it should by peeling away from the vehicle rather than impaling it.

The Texas Department of Transportation says it will not install any more ET Plus guard rails until further testing is complete.

No word on how many of those guardrails are installed on Texas highways.

Statement from Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI)

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) has earned an international reputation for its leadership in highway safety research and engineering. In 24 years of service the ET Plus® System and its predecessor, the ET 2000, have helped saved lives and reduce injuries in highway accidents across the country and worldwide.

The device has a long history of successful testing and eligibility from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). TTI’s testing of roadway safety designs is rigorous and conducted in accordance with national guidelines and standards, and professional engineering practices. The FHWA has reviewed ET Plus® System crash test data on several occasions and repeatedly accepted the ET Plus® System as eligible for federal reimbursement.

Even with the best safety precautions, there’s no such thing as a “safe crash.” End-terminal systems are designed to help dissipate the energy of an impact, but the amount of energy that is dissipated depends on a number of factors, including impact angle, vehicle type, weight, impact speed, and impact location—as well as proper installation, maintenance and repair of the ET Plus® System. Safety devices cannot be designed to prevent all deaths and injuries in violent crashes; people wearing seatbelts, a well-recognized and effective safety device, can still be killed or injured under certain crash conditions.

The range of tests being carried out for the ET Plus® System in December and January is unprecedented—it is more extensive and rigorous than any other guardrail terminal system has ever undergone. Regardless of the level of testing, we remain confident in the ET Plus® System. Our top priority is and always has been to develop systems to help save lives, which we accomplish through a commitment to excellence in engineering and safety.