JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri remains a leader with two other states in removing allegedly defective and definitely controversial guardrails as another state opts to not use the units any longer.
MoDOT committed in April to recall the 400 X-LIFE guardrail units installed in the state produced by the company Lindsay.
South Carolina transportation officials will no longer install X-LITE guard rails, rails that in April, MoDOT committed to recall 400 of the units. Nationally, the rails make up more than 1 percent of installed guard rails.
South Carolina, however, will not be recalling the units – but replacing them as they “wear out,” said DOT Deputy Secretary for Engineering Leland Colvin. Though there are no official records in the state of deaths or injuries caused by the rails,
Tennesee, who has the third most installed X-LITE rails, and Virginia will also be replacing the 1,800 allegedly defective rails.
Seven deaths have been confirmed in Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia involving the rails. Four of the seven occurred in Tennessee as the result of three crashes.
Attempted federal studies have purportedly failed on the rails as states report they were no longer keeping the rails. Other states are opting not to install anymore, leaving the ones that are installed.
Multiple law firms around the midwest have created pages about X-LITE lawsuits.
In Tennessee, the rails have been very controversial, as one of the first impaling deaths by a guardrail unit was of a 17-year-old girl who was later billed after her death by the Tennessee Department of Transportation for the damage.
“I’m shocked, the audacity,” said Hannah’s father, Steve Eimers, in response to the bill. “What bothers me is that they’re playing Russian roulette with people’s lives.”
The firm Morgan & Morgan explains the rails “are intended to slide into each other — or ‘telescope’ — when hit by a car, absorbing some of the impact of the crash and, most importantly, preventing the metal of the guardrail from penetrating the vehicle and harming the occupants.”
“Although the X-LITE guardrails are designed to help protect lives in the event of an accident, some allege that when cars make impact with the X-LITE guardrails, the metal pieces fail to “telescope,” resulting in those pieces impaling the vehicle and passengers inside of it,” the firm continued.
FEATURED PHOTO: On Feb. 6, 2017 George Jansen’s 2016 Chevrolet Silverado left Interstate 70 in Missouri and struck a Lindsay X-LITE guardrail. The rectangular hunk of metal jammed in the truck’s engine bay, causing the beam to push Jansen out the rear window as the truck traveled another 168 feet along the guardrail. (PHOTO/Missouri Highway Patrol)
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.