Sep 25, 2020

Road Accidents and Guardrails

Guardrail imageGuardrails Can Mean The Difference Between Life And Death

True. Guardrails can keep you from plunging off a cliff, among other calamities avoided when driving a motorized vehicle. These man-made barricades may act to deflect a moving motor vehicle back into the roadway. Also, they can help slow a vehicle to a complete stop. Moreover, sometimes guardrails can slow the vehicle down and still allows it to break through the guardrail.

Also, we do know most guardrails are only effective with a vehicle traveling at a velocity of 62 miles per hour or less. So guardrails can't prevent every car accident scenario near you. Drivers often drive faster than 65 mph. And motorists face so many unique situations that in some cases the guardrail could cause more harm than good. Moreover, the size and speed of the automobile or heavy truck have a role to play in guardrail effectiveness. Also, the position of the oncoming vehicle plays a role in the damages, and injuries to occupants. For example, a sliding vehicle, or a drifting vehicle might strike the guardrail in such a way that could cause a passenger ejection out the window.

Most of all, many factors combine in whether a rail must be placed, replaced, or used at all. And all of this is based upon the general conditions, in which barriers are known to work, or not. But what about when there is a guardrail, but due to some defect, or poor maintenance, the rail itself does not perform as promised? Well, for one, people can be severely hurt, or even die.

So it does not feel good to hear that recent reports show many guardrails installed on the sides of American roads do not meet the latest safety standards. They were installed after tests were conducted according to the old standards and when hit in certain accidents. The problem was that they did not provide the type of safety that was expected of them. These statements were passed on by officials from the state and federal transportation.

  • Guardrails Are Supposed To Keep Your Car Within The Road or Slow Your Car If Breaks Through.

And the report presented was prepared with joint efforts of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and The Federal Highway Administration. A guardrail is, first and foremost, a safety barrier intended to shield a motorist who has left the roadway. Ultimately, the purpose of a guardrail is to keep a careening vehicle from flying off the road. Moreover, occupants would remain far safer if the car came to rest unhindered from rolling down an embankment, for example.

Unfortunately, stretches of American highways exist where setting up side barricades won't remain possible. For example, take a look at Malibu Canyon as you cruise through Santa Monica, CA. There you will observe roads abutted by steep embankments and side slopes. And in other sections of PCH, as you head towards Oxnard, the roads may be lined with shrubs, bushes, trees, and even bridge piers.

Also present are retaining walls and sections of power poles and pull out shoulders. Sometimes it is not feasible to remove those things. Often the state will argue that money was a concern, which is why they did not make the location safer. And this is why a local car crash attorney near you is likely studying how and who to sue when a guardrail is missing or does not do its job. On the other side of the coin, sometimes guardrails can make a location less safe.

Guardrail in South Bay, CaliforniaFor example, there are cases where the rail extends towards oncoming traffic where it presents a crash risk itself. So traffic safety engineers will balance the consequences between a vehicle striking an immovable guardrail as opposed to other issues like driving off the road, of striking a tree or power pole, for example. If the benefits are great, then guardrails should be installed.

At the very least, speed limits should be adjusted down and proper traffic safety signage should be deployed to warn oncoming motorists of roadside hazards. In some cases, especially on steep inclines, guardrails can actually prevent an out of control big rig truck from properly pulling off the shoulder, or even block the pathway into a runaway vehicle escape lane. However, in most cases, a proper expert will order a simple guardrail as part of his or her traffic safety study. And this can make California's already taxed roads safer while simultaneously lessening the severity of roadway crashes.

Officials Demand New Guardrail Strength Standards

Escape lane signageThe report had records of many accidents that showed clearly that in certain accidents the guardrails were not the safest bet. Officials taking part in the report analysis also suggested that the new standards should be met with tests that are stricter. Also, the 2011 guidelines for guardrail testing were already updated with stricter aspects. But U.S. states still had the autonomy to buy and install guardrails that only met the old standards. All the people from the field of law that are concerned about the safety of people have been against this allowance. Car accident attorneys are at the top of the squeaky wheel list.

  • The Criminal Investigation Against the Manufacturers/Contractors.

The presented reports focused more on the equipment prepared by a company called Trinity Industries. Their ET-Plus is the guardrail under a lot of criticism for its poor and threatening performance in certain types of accidents. The justice department is now investigating why the Federal Highway Administration was not informed by Trinity Industries about a change in its equipment.

The investigation against the company is being conducted within the perimeters of a criminal investigation. Trinity has faced some really disfavoring circumstances because of a few negligent acts on its part. Trinity lost a case against Joshua Harman when a judge from Texas awarded the case to Trinity’s opposition with a huge $663 million.

The case filed against the company was on its conduct of not informing federal regulators about the alterations it was making in its renowned ET-Plus roadside equipment. Trinity is seeking some help in this regard and has already filed an appeal. Looking back, the case did not end well for Trinity. The trial judge found out that this type of attitude from the company was nothing but a fraud against the government and the country.

The Federal Highway Agency, after finding out about the conduct of Trinity, had called for information on the crashes that had taken place in the real world where the guardrails from Trinity were involved. The report was then sent to the federal officials on Friday but this report contained more information than required. It broadened the scope of scrutiny and in addition to ET-Plus from Trinity. Moreover, it documented records on guardrails that had been put on the sides of the roads by other companies. Also, another big company raising safety questions is Road Systems.

escape lane signThe vice president from Road Systems came forward and talked about the proceedings of the report. He admired the efforts of the organizations and individuals who collected the documents and evidence for the report. He said that it was a great step by the federal government to apply better and newer standards for the guardrails. However, he shifted liability right away by saying that even with the right equipment, poor installation, damage from extreme weather, and negligent roadway maintenance were beyond his duty or control.

  • Advantages and Disadvantages of Particular Guard Rail Systems.

He further pointed out Sequential KinKing Terminal and said that this particular equipment was still under tests by the company. Also, he said that the reports were scheduled to be submitted to the federal officials as soon as the tests were completed. The good thing for Trinity is that the report did not single them out. Moreover, the report clearly showed the vulnerabilities were a part of the roadside safety systems provided by nearly all the companies. Although it proved that all the different types of guardrails had their disadvantages, it was not asked in the report that the installed equipment be removed.

The lawyers are not happy about the decision that the old equipment should still stay on the sides of the road. But the lawyers taking part in this case and other similar cases want the equipment installed on the roadsides straight away. Officials from the Trinity also came forward and gave kudos to the entities that prepared the report. However, their questioned guardrail system called the ET-Plus is more than reliable according to them. On the other hand, an analysis based on 161 crashes proved that accidents taking place involving shallow angles and with side impacts were proof of the equipment’s failure.

  • The Shallow Angle Tests

Next, it remains important to mention here that shallow angle tests are not a strict part of the old standards under which the guardrails were previously installed. However, accidents with the same shallow angles are a major part of the tests conducted according to the newest standards. Federal Highway Administration had already put the company through rigorous testing. The surprising part of this whole case was that the companies were still allowed to install the equipment that only met the old standards. The tests conducted by the company were announced as successful tests.

An executive from Federal Highway Administration, namely Jeffrey Paniati, stated clearly that the tests are still very effective. However, the agency is still interested in tests that ET-Plus had already gone through. Moreover, this time around, the agency has included tests that involve side impacts and accidents with low angles.

How well everything goes will decide the fate of the nation. Lawyers are still persistent in asking for the installed equipment to be removed. There are several videos available online for the public to see the effectiveness of the roadside safety they have to rely on during their daily driving. If you have questions, concerns, or updates about dangerous guardrails, contact Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC at (213) 596-9642. Let us earn your trust by answering one important question at a time.


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