WASHINGTON – As part of its comprehensive investigation and review to determine the safety of Trinity Industries’ ET-Plus guardrail end terminal, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published a notice in the Federal Register requesting crash findings and other data that can shed light on the ability of the device to protect motorists by performing as it was designed.
“We’ve said from day one that we will do everything we can to ensure that drivers, passengers and the roads they travel on are safe, and this is one more action we’re taking to determine if the ET-Plus is working properly,” said FHWA Acting Administrator Gregory Nadeau. “We are taking an aggressive approach in this endeavor. This notice represents our latest work to cast a wide net for the data we need to make decisions based on facts."
FHWA’s request for data, including police reports on collisions, crash findings and measurements of the terminal found on roads, is the latest effort undertaken in concert with testing FHWA demanded of Trinity’s device. That testing is underway at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio with representatives from FHWA, American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHTO) and state DOTs onsite. The test results will be reviewed by an independent expert and released in early 2015. If the device fails to meet crash test criteria established by the AASHTO, it will no longer be eligible for federal reimbursement by FHWA.
FHWA’s Federal Register notice is the latest phase in a data search that was launched in 2012, when concerns were first raised to FHWA about an unreported design change to the guardrail end terminal. To assist with efforts to find out whether the ET-Plus four-inch version is performing as designed and meets AASHTO crash test criteria, FHWA reviewed available data including:
· 2005 crash test results by Texas Transportation Institute;
· two additional ET-Plus crash tests results, conducted in 2010;
· results from a 2012 AASHTO survey of all state DOTs about performance of w-beam end terminals (ET-Plus is included in that category). No state reported performance or safety issues with the ET-Plus;
· results of a 2014 AASHTO survey on ET-Plus to members of its Subcommittee on Design (48 States, PR & DC). Of the 33 States that responded, Missouri noted specific concerns with the ET-Plus, which was shared with FHWA in October; and,
· the results of an October 29, 2014, study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham on “Relative Comparison of NCHRP 350 Accepted W-Beam Guardrail End Terminals.”
Additionally, FHWA is analyzing information from Joshua Harman, a Trinity competitor who filed suit against Trinity, regarding 231 crash cases involving the ET-Plus. The agency is also reviewing responses provided by all state DOTs in response to FHWA’s October 2014 request for all information the states may have on crashes involving the ET-Plus on their roads. FHWA is also analyzing data from the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Study compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fatality Analysis Reporting System data and Highway Safety Information System data. FHWA will have all information and data, as well as the agency’s findings, peer-reviewed and released shortly thereafter.
FHWA’s notice can be found here in the Federal Register today. FHWA has asked that data and information be submitted by the public to the agency within 45 days (on or before February 9, 2015).