Why do dangerous X-Lite guardrails still remain on Kansas roads?

Guardrails are a common sight on major Kansas roads and highways. They prevent roadway departures near steep declines, bodies of water, critical roadside structures, ditches, and trees.

While collisions with guardrails can be catastrophic, they are supposed to help prevent severe or fatal crashes. One particular guardrail manufacturer has come under legal fire in recent years due to defective end terminals.

Manufacturer of X-Lite guardrails comes under legal fire

Several states have banned X-Lite guard rails, according to KSN. The manufacturer, Lindsay Transportation Solutions, had roughly 14,000 guardrails installed on roadways across 29 states in 2017.

The X-Lite guardrails were blamed for at least nine fatal crashes across the United States. The end terminals on all guardrails supposed to be designed  to collapse or telescope to prevent piercing through a car. The X-Lite guardrails have not done soon multiple occasions, however.

While several states have recently removed them, X-Lite guardrails still remain on Kansas roads in 38 different places. According to state records:

  • 27 are located on roads run by the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT).
  • 11 are operated by the Kansas Turnpike Authority.

KSN spoke to the wife of one motorist who was killed in a crash involving an X-Lite guardrail. His death occurred in 2017 while traveling to Cincinnati, Ohio from Overland Park, Kansas.

The crash reportedly occurred on a clear morning when his truck went off the road and collided head-on with the end terminal of the X-Lite guardrail. Rather than telescoping or collapsing, the end-terminal pierced through his vehicle, causing him to be thrown from the back windshield. He suffered an amputated leg, a laceration to his torso, and died at the scene of the crash.

What actions are being taken to save lives?

KSN reached out to Lindsay Transportation Solutions to request an on-camera interview, but the company declined. Instead, the company issued this response:

“The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has examined and re-examined the X-LITE and its in-service performance and has gathered input from state departments of transportation across the United States. In FHWA’s evaluations, the X-LITE has performed consistently with other end terminals on U.S. roads and highways and did not lead to any conclusion that the X-Lite was unsafe. Numerous states, including Kansas, have confirmed that they’ve had no negative experiences with the X-LITE.”

Transportation officials from KDOT assured KSN that they stopped using X-Lite guardrails on new projects, but don’t have a plan to promptly remove existing ones.

After reaching out to several Kansas lawmakers (most of whom were on a transportation committee), KSN received a response from Rep. K.C. Ohaebosim, D-Wichita, who agreed to partake in an on-camera interview.

“We are going to do everything possible to make sure we change these guardrails out on our Kansas roads and now that will actually be taken up in our transportation committee,” said Ohaebosim.

According to Ohaebosim, taking action to remove all X-Lite guardrails in Kansas could take some time.

What should I do if I was injured or lost a loved one?

If you sustained serious injuries or lost a loved one due to a crash with a defective guardrail, the car accident attorneys at Bretz & Young Injury Lawyers can take legal action on your behalf.

We’ll work tirelessly to investigate your crash and hold ALL the negligent parties accountable, including looking for responsible parties and their insurers where many might not think to look. For your convenience we have seven offices across the state of Kansas. Contact us online or call 866-881-0103 to schedule your free consultation.