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Are defective guardrails lining our roads and highways?

When we get behind the wheel of our vehicles and head out on our familiar routes to work, school and all other points in-between, we take it for a given that the roads and highways are in good and safe working condition.

Indeed, we expect that the pavement will be largely smooth and free of potholes, the signs and signals installed properly, the markings easy to read and all other traffic safety devices functioning correctly. Unfortunately, reports show that one such device, manufactured by different companies, has actually been failing at a catastrophic rate across the country, including Tennessee.

The malfunctioning traffic safety device in question is none other than the ubiquitous guardrails that line the sides and medians of seemingly endless miles of state highways.

Specifically, while most of this guardrail is in perfectly acceptable working condition, meaning it will absorb the impact of collisions, or safely deflect careening vehicles away from the wrong side of the road or the ditch, there are sections that may be exceedingly dangerous.

To illustrate, consider a fatal accident involving a 17-year-old driver who lost control of her vehicle while driving on Interstate 75 North near Niota one morning last November.

Here, her vehicle struck the end of the median guardrail, but rather than function in the proper manner as outlined above, it actually went through the door delivering a fatal blow.

In the after of this tragedy, the Tennessee Department of Transportation mistakenly send a nearly $3,000 bill to the victim’s family to cover the cost of the guardrail repair.

As if this wasn’t shocking enough, it was also revealed that the agency had decided to remove the guardrail end involved in the fatal accident — the Lindsay X-LITE — from its list of approved products for new projects just one week earlier over concerns about how it would perform during high-speed crashes.

Statistics show that there are as many as 1,000 of these guardrail ends still on roads throughout the Volunteer State. The somewhat good news is that TDOT will start accepting bids to remove “most” of these guardrail ends at places where the speed limit is 45 or higher starting this Friday.

It’s worth noting that several models of guardrail ends have come under fire in recent years for failing to function properly. Indeed, one whistleblower was awarded a substantial settlement against one manufacturer after it was found to have altered its guardrail end model without first securing Federal Highway Administration approval.

Stay tuned for updates …

If you’ve been seriously injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by a reckless motorist, road defect or other dangerous design, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional about your options for justice as soon as possible.

Knoxville Family Law Attorney