Are South Carolina’s Guardrails a Hazard?

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“Several people in South Carolina ARE DEAD,” writes Steve Elmers.  “Others have been permanently maimed,” he explains in his plea to the Governor’s Office.  His goal:  to convince the South Carolina Department of Transportation to remove X-LITE guardrail, which he says caused his daughter’s death in 2016.

The Problem with X-LITE Systems

x-lite guardrailWhile X-LITE guardrail end systems have consistently passed federal safety inspections, these telescoping guardrail ends have been reported to separate from guardrails and penetrate through vehicle cabins, impaling drivers and passengers.  Although X-LITEs may reduce the severity of some accidents, they have been linked to grisly injuries and fatalities in other cases.
There are some key issues with the guardrail end systems:

  • They don’t always work as intended when drivers collide with them at speeds above 62.2 miles per hour;
  • They are sometimes installed incorrectly because manufacturer’s instructions are vague or unclear; and
  • Even when the guardrail end systems perform as designed, the ends can penetrate a vehicle if the angle of impact is just right.

Fatalities Associated with the Guardrail End Systems

To date, there have been at least seven deaths directly connected to the X-LITE systems across southern states.  In some cases, occupants were impaled in their vehicles by metal pieces of the guardrail.  One of those fatalities was the 17-year old daughter of Steve Elmers.  Another horrific incident involved 37-year old Sarah Weinberg.  When she crashed into the guardrail, the end failed to telescope as designed, and instead swept up the hood of the car, smashing the windshield and ripping off the roof of the car.  Another section of the rail perforated the drivers’ side door of the car.  Ms. Weinberg died of massive head injuries.

Manufacturer’s Response

The manufacturer, Lindsay Corp., asserts that the Federal Highway Administration has approved the X-LITE rail end systems.  They claim safety as a top priority, and state that no product can prevent fatalities in every single situation.

Why Are These Guardrail End Systems Still on the Roads?

Although some states are removing the guardrail end systems and putting in safer designs, this is not the case in South Carolina.  The Department of Transportation has taken the step of removing X-LITEs from the state’s approved list of products for future purchases, but refuses to remove the X-LITE systems that are currently installed along South Carolina roadways.  It says that since the rail end systems are still on the federal government’s list of approved devices, and because the cost of replacing existing rail ends would be enormous, the state will simply replace them as they update road plans over the next decade.

Who is Liable in an Accident?

Every accident is unique, and the circumstances leading to injuries and deaths vary.  However, in the event that known perils, such as these guardrail end systems, result in serious damage or death to a vehicle’s occupants, entities that are aware of the hazards and fail to remedy them may be liable for the harms.  If you or a loved one experiences a serious traffic accident, allow the experienced and compassionate team at David R. Price, P.A. to help.  The initial consultation is no cost and confidential.  Call (864) 310-7640 or email the law firm today.

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