Study says Texas guardrail design could be dangerous

A new study has found that the guardrails used on Texas highways are more likely to cause fatal accidents.

Risk of death increases with new guardrail compared to older model

A guardrail used on Texas' freeways and throughout the U.S. is coming in for scrutiny after a University of Alabama-Birmingham study found the guardrails increase the risk of injury or death during a freeway accident, according to FOX Dallas-Fort Worth. The guardrails, which are produced by a Dallas-based company, have already been banned in three states. Furthermore, a number of lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturer alleging the company changed the guardrail design without notifying federal regulators.

Guardrail dangerous?

The university study raises some troubling questions about the guardrail. According to the study, accidents involving the guardrail were three times likelier to lead to a fatality than accidents that involved an older version of the guardrail. Also, accidents were twice as likely to lead to injury. The study looked at data from Missouri and Ohio.

In response to the study, Massachusetts says it will no longer use the guardrail on its highways, according to ABC News. Missouri also announced it was discontinuing use of the guardrail, but said the decision was based on an internal report. Nevada had also previously announced it would not be using the guardrails anymore.

Acts as a spear

The guardrails are actually meant to reduce the likelihood of serious accidents. When a vehicle hits the guardrail's end terminal, the rail is supposed to coil through the end terminal and guide the vehicle off of the highway so that it will not collide with other cars.

However, critics say that instead the guardrails are becoming jammed and are instead forming into spears capable of piercing through vehicles. They say the reason the guardrails are not functioning properly is because the manufacturer changed a piece of the design-without notifying regulators-in order to save money. Lawsuits have been filed in Dallas by many of the victims against the manufacturer and a whistleblower lawsuit against the company is set to get underway in October.

Freeway accidents

Because of the high speeds and amount of traffic, freeway accidents can be particularly serious and may sometimes even lead to death. As this story shows, other factors may also contribute to the seriousness of a freeway accident, including not just potentially defective guardrails, but other drivers who are distracted, impaired or simply driving recklessly.

Anybody who has been injured in a car accident should contact a qualified personal injury attorney right away. Such an attorney can use his years of expertise to help gather evidence, ensure victims receive proper medical care, and, if necessary, pursue legal action against any third party that may have negligently or recklessly contributed to the accident.

Keywords: Texas, freeway, accident