US Federal Highway Administration Asked to Investigate Defective Guardrail System

Six United States senators have asked the Federal Highway Administration to investigate the safety of roadside guardrails. This request was made on March 4, 2015, and it is the latest of a series of inquiries made regarding the guardrails manufactured by Trinity Industries Inc.

The questions about the guardrail system manufactured by Trinity began in October 2014 after a jury found that Trinity had defrauded the United States government by choosing not to report changes to the guardrail system. This act of failing to report changes to the guardrail system was over a period of seven years.

There have been as many as eight deaths reported to be linked to the defective guardrail system. No spokesperson for Trinity would comment on any specific lawsuit.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reviews crash-test data and other information to determine whether a product meets the required safety protocol. In 2000, the FHWA signed off on Trinity’s shock-absorbing guardrail system. At that time the federal government released millions of dollars in federal reimbursements to the states to install these guardrail systems.

According to the report, the senators wrote that, “FHWA, as the guardian of federal taxpayer dollars, has a unique and vital role and responsibility in ensuring that roadside hardware has been property vetted for safety purposes.” The U.S. senators wrote this letter to Gene Dodaro, who is the head of the U.S. Government Accountability Office. “The developments over the past several months raised serious questions about the effectiveness of the current framework.”

In one of the several lawsuits filed against Trinity regarding its ET-Plus guardrail system, it is claimed that the system was modified in 2005 and jams up when hit. After being struck by a vehicle, the guardrail then has been known to penetrate crashing cars and injure or kill the occupants of vehicles. The FHWA became aware of the undisclosed changes to Trinity’s guardrail system in 2012 — about seven years after the changes were first made.

Trinity has said that the notice to the government of the design changes to its guardrail system was “inadvertently omitted” in crash-test documentation sent to the agency in 2005. In October 2014, the FHWA required Trinity to retest the ET-Plus system. There was a jury trial involving a whistleblower lawsuit that found Trinity liable for $525 million for choosing not to disclose the product changes that were made in 2005.

In February 2015, the Trinity System paced four of eight government-mandated crash tests. There are four remaining tests that are awaiting final results. Trinity has stopped sending and shipping the guardrail system. In 42 states and the District of Columbia, shipments and purchases of the guardrail system have been suspended until a final determination as to its safety has been concluded.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling car product defect cases, automobile and truck accident cases, pharmaceutical defect cases and birth injury negligence and wrongful death cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 38 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Northfield, New Lenox, Lemont, Joliet, Romeoville, Blue Island, South Holland, worth, Alsip, Bridgeview, Markham, Mundelein, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, Grayslake, Chicago (Rogers Park, Irving Park, Jefferson Park, Wicker Park), Inverness, Libertyville and Lincolnshire, Ill.

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