ROADS/BRIDGES: Guardrails go back to the proving ground

Dec. 18, 2014

The company engages further series of tests following protracted safety concerns


On Dec. 16, Trinity Industries conducted the second of a series of eight crash tests involving its potentially dangerous guardrail system. The testing, which took place in San Antonio, Tx., was overseen by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) after question began to surface as to whether the units being put under evaluation were not the same units as those initially installed.

The guardrails in question, known by the product name ET-Plus, were impacted head-on by a full-size pickup truck. According to on-site authorities, there was nothing of distinction revealed by the result of the crash test; the product was seen to perform as intended.

Since guardrails function by absorbing front impact by collapsing and pushing the rail metal away from the impacting vehicle, critics have voiced concern that head-on testing is inaccurate and simply does not reflect real-world road impacts, which more often than not occur from an angular approach. Trinity responded by indicating that Tuesday’s test was meant to confirm 2005 test results, but further tests could be performed as well.

Concerns over adjusted exit gap meansurements have FHWA folks on the ground in three states taking independent measurements. Jeff Eller, company spokesman for Trinity, said on Tuesday that “the heads being tested are within production tolerance.”

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