SCDOT releases statement in wake of lawsuit against X-Lite guardrails

Updated: Feb. 2, 2018 at 2:43 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The South Carolina Department of Transportation released a statement on Friday in response to the lawsuit filed against them by the son of a woman who died after colliding with an X-Lite guardrail in April.

Charlotte Blankenship, 67, was driving her GMC Yukon on Interstate 26 when she crashed into the guardrail, which penetrated the vehicle, causing serious injury, according to the lawsuit.

SCDOT, in the below statement, defends the testing requirements utilized by the Federal Highway Administration for hardware designed for roadside safety, i.e. guardrails. The accused X-Lite guardrails were eligible for installation in September 2011 and the rail's safety eligibility was recently reviewed by FHWA in May 2017, according to SCDOT's statement.

SCDOT, however, says that they have suspended installation of new X-Lite rails on state highways due to "recent controversy" and will determine the future of existing rails after monitoring additional testing performed on the rails along with FHWA guidance.

SCDOT, like other states, utilizes the national crash testing requirements adopted by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for roadside safety hardware, like guardrails.  FHWA issued a safety eligibility for the X-Lite guardrail end-terminal in September 2011 which remains in effect and was revisited by FHWA as recently as May of 2017.  Based on the September 2011 safety eligibility letter, SCDOT approved the X-Lite end terminal for use on the State Highway System.   

Due to the recent controversy surrounding the X-Lite end-terminal, SCDOT has suspended the installation of any new  X-Lite devices on the state’s highways. The agency is monitoring the additional crash research testing performed on these controversial devices and FHWA guidance to determine the disposition of the existing devices that are in place today.

Due to pending lawsuits concerning this product, SCDOT will make no further comment about this matter.

The lawsuit seeks reparations from the Lindsay Corporation, Barrier Systems, and Bagwell Fence Company in addition to SCDOT.

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