ROADS/BRIDGES: FHWA requests crash data for guardrails

The agency’s announcement increases pressure on embattled manufacturer

December 29, 2014

On the eve of the Christmas holiday, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) made, via the Federal Register, a formal request for crash data and other findings regarding Trinity Industries’ ET-Plus guardrail end terminal, following protracted allegations that have surfaced regarding misleading safety results.

Acting administrator Gregory Nadeau was quoted as saying, ““We’ve said from day one that we will do everything we can to ensure that drivers, passengers and the roads they travel on are safe, and this is one more action we’re taking to determine if the ET-Plus is working properly. We are taking an aggressive approach in this endeavor. This notice represents our latest work to cast a wide net for the data we need to make decisions based on facts."

The data request asks for information such as police reports on collisions, crash findings, measurements of terminals presently installed on roadways and internal safety results generated by Trinity.

With testing presently taking place at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio in the presence of representatives from FHWA, the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHTO) and state DOTs, it is expected that independent expert analysis will become available by early 2015. As for whether this nebulous date will quell safety concerns remains to be seen.

The FHWA is also analyzing data provided by Joshua Harman, a competitor of Trinity, whose suit against the company cited 231 crash cases involving the ET-Plus. Additionally, state DOT responses to a October 2014 information release request made by the FHWA regarding ET-Plus crash information are also being examined.

The agency request to Trinity has an expectation of delivery date no later than Feb. 9, 2015.