The Florida Department of Transportation announced via CBS 12 that the ET Plus guardrails used to protect much of the state are not as reliable as they were commissioned to be.
The guardrails, made by Trinity Highway Products LLC in Texas, were manufactured and installed with a design change that the company did not notify its consumers about. They decreased the size of the guardrails’ end terminals from five inches to four. It may not seem like a lot, but the difference has authorities concerned. Anonymous safety critics noticed the change and alerted the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). FDOT representative Dick Kane told CBS 12 that now that his agency is aware of the issue, they are taking steps to correct it.
Step one was halting the installation of any more guardrails throughout Florida. More than 2000 guardrails already run alongside the roads. Their largest presences exist in Palm Beach, St Lucie, Martin, and Broward counties. Each county has over 500 ET plus guardrails that may have to be taken down.
Federal courts have required that the controversial guardrail systems undergo testing to be sure of their safety. FDOT investigators have already begun. They have reported on 3500 miles of guardrail so far, and will send their reports to Washington DC where they will be reviewed and made into a comprehensive report by national transportation agencies. This report could benefit many states; it is estimated that there are over 250,000 Trinity Highway Products guardrails spread throughout the nation.
A Trinity spokesman told interviewers that the company is confident its product will past this new round of safety testing. The critics are not so sure. It is believed that ET plus guardrails are not merely failing to protect people in the event of a vehicular accident, but that they are actually reducing the likelihood of survival in said crash. Reports of death resulting from the guardrails themselves are already circling the internet to warn the public of the hazards.
The Florida Department of Transportation is working hard to discover the truth behind the guardrails they installed. A recall may be necessary but for now are merely holding off on production. Trinity Highway Products LLC is working with them to ensure the safety of the public. No one wants the guardrails to be unsafe. Both parties should have their answer by early January 2015, when the tests and reports will conclude.