Tennessee Plans to Replace Controversial Guardrails as Death Toll Climbs

guardrail country roadAs three states have confirmed that several fatal car crashes are linked to the defective X-LITE guardrail ends, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is preparing to remove and replace nearly 1,800 X-LITE’s throughout the state.

Tennessee is the first state in the nation to confirm its intention of removing the X-LITE guardrail and replacing it with another traffic safety device.

At Greg Coleman Law, our staff of dedicated personal injury lawyers is committed to helping families who have suffered because of dangerous products like the X-LITE guardrail.

Tennessee’s X-LITE Guardrail Removal Plan

The state will remove the majority of the 1,700 to 1,800 X-LITE guardrails on state roads with speed limits that exceed 45 mph. The cost of labor and materials is expected to reach about $2,000 to replace each X-LITE guardrail terminal, with an estimated total of $3.6 million for the entire project.

The X-LITE recently became the subject of controversy when TDOT billed a 17-year-old victim who was killed by the guardrail end in November 2016. The bill totaled nearly $3,000 in damages to repair and replace the device.

Tennessee’s commitment to replace the X-LITE guardrail follows the deaths of at least seven people who have been killed in six auto accidents throughout Missouri, Virginia and Tennessee. In each incident, the vehicles struck an X-LITE guardrail end and were impaled by the device.

Approximately five of those collisions involved vehicles that were traveling along interstates with a speed limit of 70 mph.

Defective X-LITE Guardrail

Since June 2016 in Tennessee, X-LITE guardrails, manufactured by Lindsay Corp., have skewered three vehicles that struck the end of the traffic safety device, killing four people.

Guardrails consist of several pieces that are designed to slide into one another when struck by a vehicle to absorb the impact of the collision, referred to as “telescoping.”

TDOT found inconsistencies in the X-LITE’s performance. The device failed to telescope and properly absorb the impact of the colliding vehicle when hit at speeds higher than 62.2 mph, the standard crash test speed for guardrail ends.

In several crashes, the X-LITE guardrail ends separated horizontally from the w-beam guardrail and pierced the vehicle’s cabin, according to the TDOT.

The TDOT also found Lindsay Corp.’s installation instructions for the X-LITE to be unclear regarding a “lack of bolt torque specifications” that could lead to complications and insufficiencies concerning the device’s performance.

In non-fatal crashes, TDOT reported that some X-LITE guardrails failed to telescope, but did not impale the vehicle.

X-LITE Guardrail Deaths Reported in Missouri and Virginia

Although Tennessee has become the first state to initiate the removal of X-LITE guardrails, several deaths have been attributed to the device in Missouri and Virginia.

At least two people have died in Missouri in auto accidents that involved an X-LITE guardrail end since the state first began using the device in 2015.

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MDOT) has not confirmed whether it will follow TDOT’s initiative.

MDOT was also unable to provide details as to the exact number of X-LITE guardrails installed throughout the state, but it has stopped repairing and installing the device.

Virginia has less than 1,000 X-LITE guardrails ends along state roads, and state officials have confirmed 37 were involved in auto crashes between Oct. 31, 2013 and March 27, 2017, according to the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

VDOT has stated that only one fatal crash has occurred in which an X-LITE guardrail end was known to have been involved. The 37-year-old driver’s vehicle was impaled head-on and she later died from massive head injuries.

Legal Help for Victims of the X-LITE Guardrail

Officials from the Lindsay Corp. have repeatedly stated that the X-LITE guardrail end has passed all required crash and safety tests and remains approved for use by the Federal Highway Administration.

However, several states, including Tennessee, have removed the X-LITE from the list of approved highway traffic safety devices.

If you were injured or lost someone you love in an accident involving an X-LITE guardrail end, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit.

A Knoxville personal injury attorney from our firm can provide you with a free, no obligation consultation to determine if you can pursue justice and recover damages for your loss.

Our services are provided on a contingency fee basis, which means all legal and investigative work we do on your behalf comes at no upfront charge. We only get paid if we are successful in recovering compensation for your claim.

Call (865) 247-0080 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form if you have been affected by an X-LITE guardrail.