Controversial guardrail system passes most Virginia crash tests

Controversial guardrail system passes most Virginia crash tests

(WWBT) - A controversial highway guardrail system being blamed for devastating injuries around the country, passed most of the crash tests paid for by Virginia. The Commonwealth is suing the makers of the guardrails for changing the design of the system without warning the state.

The state will soon begin replacing the devices on roadways where crashes could be more severe. The state says that's most likely roads with speed limits of 55 or higher.

VDOT's chief engineer is concerned about one of the non-standard tests designed to show what happens when the device is hit at an angle. In that crash, the test truck overturned. He says that shows a vulnerability in the system.

VDOT decided to do the testing because of issues with modified Trinity E-T Plus guardrail end terminals.

In a crash, end terminals are supposed to push the guardrail away from the vehicle. However, in some crashes around the country, including five crashes in Virginia involving the E-T Plus, the guardrails penetrated the vehicle.

Virginia says it also has documented two other crashes involving products not designed by Trinity where the guardrail also penetrated a vehicle.

The state says it will begin testing other models of the devices and will start replacing older model guardrails end terminals entirely.

Trinity has called the state's test "questionable and unreliable" and has accused Virginia of conducting them merely to support its lawsuit against the company.

The company issued a statement:

'Trinity Highway Products' (THP) ET Plus System has been thoroughly reviewed by federal and state highway officials and multiple independent experts.  Since its introduction, the ET Plus System has met NCHRP 350 standards, has been accepted by the FHWA for use on the nation's highways, and has an unbroken chain of eligibility for federal aid reimbursement.  The ET Plus System is the most successfully crash tested product of its kind.  Today, VDOT confirmed that the ET Plus System meets NCHRP 350 standards.

Copyright 2015 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.