State lawmaker wants to outlaw 'deadly' guardrails

March 29, 2017 05:55 PM

A state lawmaker is calling for "deadly" guardrails to be banned after the death of a Fredonia native in Tennessee.

Hannah Eimers' death made national headlines after her father said he was accidentally billed for the guardrail that killed his daughter. Now he's using the spotlight to try and encourage states to get rid of a device he says shouldn’t have been on the road in the first place.

Five months ago, 17-year-old Hannah Eimers was driving her father's car in Tennessee when she went off the road and crashed into the guardrail. The guardrail end-terminal involved in the crash was removed from the Tennessee DOT's list of approved materials -- one week before her fatal accident.

The device Eimers hit is what’s known as an “X-LITE” terminal. The Tennessee DOT removed it from its list of approved materials for contractors to use due to “concerns about potential long-term performance issues.”

Records indicate the same device had been involved in at least four other fatal crashes in the state.

"They had a dangerous device on the road, they left it in place and it killed my daughter,” says Stephen Eimers.

After analyzing crash data, TDOT decided to take further action on the X-LITE terminal. It will soon begin removing the device on roads with a speed limit higher than 45 miles per hour. In September, the State of Virginia also removed the X-LITE device from their approved list.

The device is still approved for use here in New York State. A spokeswoman for NYSDOT tells News10NBC, “Only guiderails that have been approved for use by the Federal Highway Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation are listed on the DOT website. DOT would coordinate with FHWA on any proposed changes."

When asked how many X-LITE terminals are currently in place on New York roadways, she said the department was still working to compile a list.

A number of Western New York lawmakers are asking NYSDOT to reconsider allowing the use of the X-LITE at least until further testing can be done. Senator Catherine Young has introduced new legislation which would remove “X-Lite” guardrail products from the list of eligible types of materials used for guardrails in New York State, ban “X-Lite” and similarly designed products from being installed in the future, and require that any existing “X-Lite” guardrail products be replaced.

"This legislation is about ensuring the public’s safety on the roadways. We are discovering that there are deathtraps on the sides of our roads. Guardrails are supposed to be designed to protect people from injury when there is an accident. You just can’t cut corners when public safety is involved and this design is seriously flawed. Banning the use of this design will help keep everyone safe while honoring Hannah’s memory. Everything that can be done to protect motorists should be done. If a product is known to be deficient, we should take steps to replace it and make sure municipalities and the state don’t continue investing in the technology,” she said in a statement.

The company that produces the X-LITE, Lindsay Corporation, says the terminals pass all crash and safety tests. In a statement, Scott Marion the President of Infrastructure Division at Lindsay Corporation tells News10NBC:

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Eimers family and all of those affected by this tragic accident. For decades, Lindsay Transportation Solutions has made safety our number one priority. As federal standards and criteria change, we work with states to offer products that help them to enhance safety on the roads for their drivers. The X-Lite guardrail terminal has successfully passed crash and safety tests in accordance with federal standards and criteria, and remains qualified for use on America’s roadways. It is widely recognized that there are impact conditions that exceed the performance expectations of all safety equipment. While federal crash testing is intended to assess a variety of conditions, no test can replicate every possible scenario. Many factors can affect the severity of an impact, including the type and size of a vehicle, the angle at which a vehicle makes impact, vehicle speed, highway design, and many more. Without understanding the complete details of an accident, there is no additional information we can offer."

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Jennifer Lewke

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