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Guardrail remains on Pennsylvania roads despite safety concerns

Other states have moved to ban and remove potentially dangerous guardrail

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) says it has no immediate plans to remove thousands of potentially life-threatening guardrails on its roads and highways, according to CBS Pittsburgh. PennDOT said that while it has discontinued use of the guardrails, the ones that have already been installed will remain until the department receives advice from federal authorities. The guardrails, which are subject to numerous injury and wrongful death suits, have been implicated in a number of serious car accidents.

Design flaw

The guardrail's end terminal is supposed to collapse and guide impacting vehicle off the road during a collision. Instead, however, numerous examples have been cited of the end terminal becoming jammed and the steel ribbon wedging and spearing vehicles. Investigators say the ribbon acts like a knife going through vehicles and has resulted in drivers and passengers losing limbs and, in some cases, their lives.

A Texas jury recently found the guardrail manufacturer guilty of modify the design of the guardrail in 2005 without performing crash tests or notifying federal authorities. Critics say the design change makes it difficult for the steel ribbon to pass through the end terminals, thus causing the guardrails to malfunction. The manufacturer faces 14 lawsuits across the country in relation to crashes that plaintiffs allege were made more severe because of the defective guardrails.

Guardrail use suspended

Numerous states have since said they will discontinue use of the controversial guardrail, including Pennsylvania. According to Bloomberg, Virginia recently became the first state to go one step further and announce that it would remove all of the banned guardrails already installed on that state's roads and highways.

PennDOT, which says there are about 9,500 of these guardrails on Pennsylvania's highways, has said that it has no immediate plans to remove the guardrails already installed. The department says that it is waiting further safety tests and guidance from federal authorities before deciding what to do next. Currently installed guardrails that are damaged or need replacing will either be repaired or replaced with an approved design.

Car accident litigation

The above story shows how numerous factors can come into play during a serious car wreck. Aside from the behavior of other motorists on the road, drivers and passengers may also suffer injuries because of the alleged negligence of other third parties.

Anybody who has been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. A qualified attorney can help look into all allegations of negligence or wrongdoing that may have contributed to an accident and can advise clients on how best to proceed with their cases.