Transportation officials in Missouri and Massachusetts have suspended use of a newly designed roadway guardrail. A study conducted by the University of Alabama-Birmingham found that the newly designed end terminal of ET Plus model guardrails “placed motorists at a higher level of risk of both serious injury and fatality” compared to other versions of the same guardrail. Missouri Transportation officials cited the study conducted at University of Alabama-Birmingham as well an internal investigation in deciding to halt the use of the guardrails.
The end terminals in the new design contain a four inch piece of metal versus the five inch piece of metal found in previous versions. The smaller metal section is to blame for the risk of malfunction. Trinity Industries, the company that manufactures the ET Plus guardrails, redesigned the guardrail to cut costs, saving about $2.00 per guardrail or about $50,000 per year.
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