More than a dozen states are spending millions of dollars to remove and replace allegedly defective Lindsay Corporation X-LITE guardrails along state highways. This comes following a series of fatal traffic accidents during which motorists struck the end of a guardrail. Instead of telescoping into itself to absorb the severity of impact as designed, the guardrail ends impaled the vehicles, killing the drivers and/or passengers.
The guardrail removals were prompted in large part by the actions of Stephen Elmers, a Loudon County, Tennessee, man whose 17-year-old daughter Hannah died in November 2016 when she hit a guardrail that speared her vehicle and killed her. A few months after her death, the Tennessee Department of Transportation mistakenly billed her for $3,000 to replace the X-LITE that impaled her, a story that went viral.
Mr. Elmers is now pushing for a national recall of the defective guardrails. He is also one of a growing number of individuals who have filed lawsuits against Nebraska-based Lindsay Corporation, alleging the company’s X-LITE guardrails are defective and cause more harm than good during collisions.
Another lawsuit involves the case of Charlotte Blankenship, who died in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, in April 2017 after the SUV her husband was driving went off the side of the interstate and hit an X-LITE guardrail, which “pierce(d) through the GMC’s exterior and frame,” all the way through to the back passenger seat.
Most of the X-LITE guardrails are designed so that they telescope into themselves when struck to prevent the metal end from piercing vehicles. But an investigation by the Tennessee Department of Transportation found that at speeds higher than 62.2 mph, the standard crash test speed for guardrail ends, the guardrails are apt to separate horizontally from the w-beam and pierce vehicle cabins. In some cases, the X-LITE guardrails didn’t telescope but didn’t pierce vehicles.
The evidence shows that the guardrails are defective and should be removed from U.S. roadways, Mr. Elmers says. “We can never bring my daughter Hannah … back, but we can honor (her life) by ensuring no other family shares in this horrific grief.”
Sources: U.S. News, Knox News, WSMV, WJHL
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This story appears in the November 2018 edition of The Jere Beasley Report. For more like it or to subscribe to the Report, visit our Publications page.