A lot of press has been focused on highway guardrails made by Trinity Industries of Texas since the company became the target of a massive whistleblower lawsuit alleging the safety devices malfunctioned after an unapproved redesign. But according to a Knoxville News Sentinel report, Trinity’s ET-Plus guardrails are not the only rail systems malfunctioning, sometimes with deadly consequences.
Since June 2016, at least four people in Tennessee were killed when their vehicles struck the end terminals of guardrails that failed to buckle and absorb the impact of the collision. Instead, the rails stayed rigid and impaled the vehicles like a spear with deadly consequences.
Three of those fatal crashes involved the same guardrail system: the Lindsay X-LITE, a guardrail system made by the Lindsay Corporation of Rio Vista, California.
After two of those fatal crashes, the Tennessee Department of Transportation replaced the damaged guardrails with the same X-LITE system. But on Oct. 25, 2016, the agency removed the X-LITE from its approved-products list over evidence that indicated the guardrails failed to function properly at speeds over 62 mph.
Tennessee transportation authorities set a goal of removing and replacing all X-LITE guardrails on roads with a speed limit over 45 mph by later 2016 to early 2017.
But those plans came too late for 17-year-old Hannah Eimers of Lenoir City, Tennessee, who was killed on Nov. 1, 2016, when she struck an X-LITE guardrail on I-75 in McMinn County. The guardrail failed to buckle and cushion the vehicle’s stop. It impaled the vehicle instead and struck Hannah in the neck and head area, killing her instantly.
Tennessee isn’t the only state concerned about the Lindsay X-LITE guardrail. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, New York state senator Catharine Young proposed on March 27 to ban the use of “any ‘X-LITE’ guardrail or rail cap manufactured by the Lindsay Corporation” on highways with speed limits of 45 mph or higher. Steven Eimer, Hannah’s father, has advocated for the removal of the X-LITE guardrails in his home state of New York, which is also where Hannah was born.
“New York being the birthplace of my daughter Hannah, it would mean a lot if they would take a look at their devices and act,” Mr. Eimer told WGRZ Channel 2 Buffalo.
WGRZ also reports the state of Virginia has removed the Lindsay X-LITE guardrails off its list of approved devices because of concerns over their performance.