Are Defective Guardrails Responsible for Deaths Nationwide?

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Guardrails are supposed to save lives by helping absorb the impact forces during car accidents. Ironically, certain models of guardrails may increase the chances of death or serious injuries during collisions. Recent deaths across the country were reportedly caused by guardrails, such as the X-Lite. This telescoping guardrail system is manufactured by Lindsay Transportation Solutions.

In 2016, a 17-year-old girl died after an X-Lite guardrail pierced the passenger compartment of her vehicle during a collision. Her father is now leading a national campaign to promote public awareness on the dangers of these guardrails. Earlier this year, an 18-year-old U.S. Marine died in Maryland after crashing into an X-Lite guardrail. His mother is leading a call to remove these guardrails from Maryland roads.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is conducting a statewide inventory to determine where X-Lite guardrails are installed. Earlier this year, PennDOT halted the installation of these guardrails on Pennsylvania roads. However, multiple roads across the state still use X-Lite guardrails.

Why Are X-Lite Guardrails Dangerous?

X-Lite guardrail terminals (the ends of the guardrails) are supposed to absorb impact forces from collisions through a process called “telescoping.” This is where several pieces of the guardrail slide backwards into each other. In high-speed collisions, these pieces can pierce vehicle cabins. Multiple people have died this way over the past several years.

Transportation officials in Virginia and Tennessee have expressed concerns about the safety of X-Lite guardrails. The Virginia Department of Transportation began removing X-Lite guardrails from state roads after testing their effectiveness.

Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) officials also had reservations about the continued use of X-Lite guardrails on state roads. According to TDOT, X-Lite guardrail terminals can fail after being hit at speeds of greater than 62 miles per hour. In addition, TDOT found the installation instructions for X-Lite terminals to be “unclear”. TDOT was concerned that due to these instructions, there could be installation deficiencies. Tennessee removed X-Lite guardrails from roads with posted speed limits of greater than 45 miles per hour.

Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C., is a Philadelphia catastrophic injury law firm that has extensive experience with product liability lawsuits. You can reach us for a free consultation by calling (215) 585-2814 or by using our online case review form.

Co-founder and senior shareholder of our law firm, Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney Kenneth M. Rothweiler began his career as a legal clerk for the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. Dedicated to complex personal injury litigation, he has tried more than 100 jury trials. These cases resulted in some of the largest verdicts in Pennsylvania.