Thousands of potentially dangerous guardrails on state's roads

PennDOT has halted use, but says existing guardrails will remain for now

Thousands of controversial guardrail end terminals, which have been implicated in dozens of serious car accidents, line Pennsylvania's roads and highways, according to CBS Pittsburgh. Following a federal court jury's decision recently that found the guardrail manufacturer had defrauded the federal government by illegally modifying the guardrail's design, many states have banned the use of the product. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has followed suit and halted the use of the guardrails; however, it has yet to go as far as some other states and actually begin removing those already installed.

Design flaw

The jury in Dallas ruled in October that Trinity Highway Products LLC had committed fraud by modifying the guardrail's design without notifying federal authorities or carrying out the requisite crash tests. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the jury awarded the federal government $175 million and that amount will automatically be tripled to $525 million because it was a whistle-blower case. Trinity has vowed to appeal the ruling.

Prosecutors alleged that the design change, though small, has led to catastrophic results. The guardrail end terminals are supposed to collapse when struck by a vehicle and guide that vehicle off the road. However, some guardrails have been malfunctioning and actually spearing vehicles. The whistle-blower in the case says that as many as 20 people may have been killed by the guardrails, with countless more suffering horrific injuries, such as amputated limbs.

Use in Pennsylvania halted

PennDOT says that it has immediately halted any further use of the controversial end terminals, including those that are currently on construction sites. The move follows similar bans by other states in the wake of the Texas ruling.

However, 9,500 of the end terminals currently line the state's roads and highways and PennDOT says it has no immediate plans to remove them just yet. Virginia became the first state to begin removing the guardrails following the jury's verdict. Authorities in Pennsylvania say they will await further testing and advice from federal authorities before deciding what to do with the existing end terminals.

Car accidents

Car accidents often leave victims both with emotional and physical scars. The pain that such victims often feel after an accident can quickly be compounded by anger if they discover the accident was caused or made worse by another party's negligence. Negligence usually includes another driver's behavior, such as drunk or distracted driving, but, as the above case shows, sometimes the roads themselves can be dangerous.

Anybody who has been the victim of a car accident should get in touch with a personal injury attorney at their earliest possible convenience. A dedicated attorney can help victims understand what options they may have following a crash and, in some cases, may be able to help victims pursue compensation against any negligent party.