Trinity Industries has come under fire recently over its road and highway guardrails. Some have complained that, rather than slowing cars down, on impact, the guardrails pierce vehicles leading to occupant injury or death.
Lawsuit after lawsuit has been filed against Trinity Industries claiming that its guardrails are defective and can cause injury or death upon impact. Some of these lawsuits have been successful, and has brought significant scrutiny from federal regulators. The Federal Highway Administration has ordered Trinity to have its guardrails tested. Although Trinity recently passed its first four tests, the guardrail manufacturer still has four to go, totaling eight crash tests.
If Trinity passes the remaining tests, it will confirm that Trinity was correct in asserting that its guardrails meet all safety criteria and do not pose an additional risk of injury or death.
The current lawsuits surrounding Trinity allege that the guardrails can pierce cars upon impact, rather than slowing them down after a crash as intended. Previous lawsuits asserted that Trinity failed to disclose modifications to its guardrails to the Federal Highway Administration. Some states have even suspended these guardrails (new installations) due to concerns over safety, saying they would not begin installing new Trinity guardrails again unless the company passes the federal crash tests. The Federal Highway Administration also said it would revoke acceptance of the guardrails should Trinity fail the remaining portions of the crash testing.
Do the Trinity guardrails cause spearing?
Some traffic engineers had independent experts evaluate the guardrails and believe that, while tests show no spearing, crash tests do show significant denting which could potentially lead to disabling injuries. More testing is needed to either confirm or deny the allegations that Trinity guardrails penetrate vehicles upon impact.
Whistleblower Wins $175 Million Guardrail Lawsuit
A federal jury in Texas awarded $175 million to the whistleblower that exposed Trinity Industries' unsafe highway guardrails. The whistleblower who filed the lawsuit is a guardrail installer from Virginia. He filed the claim on behalf of the government using the False Claims Act. The jury deliberated and ruled that Trinity had lied to federal regulators saying that it had not changed the guardrail design when in fact it had done so back in 2005. The design change involved a specific piece of the guardrail on Trinity's ET-Plus model. One study revealed that Trinity's new model was three times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision than the older model.