Blumenthal To Call On Federal Highway Administration To Expedite Investigation Into Possibly-Defective Guardrails

 

Guardrails In Use On Connecticut Roads; Connecticut State Officials Raised Concerns To FHWA About Safety of Guardrails

For Nearly a Decade, Guardrail Manufacturer Installed A Potentially-Defective Part Different From Part Approved By FHWA, Possibly Endangering Motorists

(Hartford, CT) – At noon on Wednesday, October 22 at the Hartford Legislative Office Building, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) will call on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to expedite its investigation into possibly-dangerous guardrails, and to act immediately to protect motorists if they are found to be unsafe. He will also call on FHWA to provide a full accounting of its handling of the approval of these guardrails, which were installed on highways nationwide, even after evidence of fraud was made apparent to federal regulators.

The manufacturer of the device in question, Trinity Highway Products, LLC, installed guardrail end terminals to absorb the impact of out-of-control vehicles, reducing the chance of death or injury to motorists. On Monday, a federal jury in Texas returned a $525 million verdict against Trinity, finding that the company committed fraud in failing to adequately notify federal officials of changes in its design of the part in question. However, Trinity continued to install the faulty end terminals even after 2012 when it became known to federal regulators that the part in question was different from the one approved by FHWA.

“Despite years of urgent warnings from states and individuals across the country, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has continued to stand by the safety of Trinity Highway Products’ ET-Plus guardrail device,” said Blumenthal. “Today, FHWA must expedite its investigation into the safety of this product and act immediately to protect motorists if this product is indeed found to be unsafe. These devices are on highways nationwide, and FHWA claims they are safe even after a federal jury found yesterday that Trinity defrauded the government and misled officials for years about its product. As culpable of wrongdoing as the jury held Trinity, FHWA may share the blame. FHWA is responsible for preventing harm before defective products are installed on our roads. Widespread use of these potentially dangerous guardrails was on FHWA’s watch, and I demand to know why FHWA allowed it – perhaps even encouraged it. FHWA must explain immediately why it delayed for years to take action to investigate the device – even after evidence of fraud was made apparent in 2012. FHWA must also explain why it continues to stand by the device, and it must outline every step it is taking to ensure it is not responsible for death or injury on our roads.”

Blumenthal today sent a letter to FHWA Acting Administrator Gregory Nadeau, requesting specific answers to questions about the agency’s handling of the part and oversight of guardrails.

WHO

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)

WHERE

Room 1C

Legislative Office Building

300 Capitol Avenue

Hartford, CT

WHEN

Noon

 

October 22, 2014