AASHTO Journal

ET-Plus Passes All Crash Tests; Task Force Finds ‘No Evidence’ of Multiple Versions

The Federal Highway Administration said the ET-Plus guardrail end terminals have passed all eight recent crash tests that the FHWA had sought, and the products continue to qualify for federal reimbursement when states install them.

In addition, a joint task force of the FHWA and American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials said measurements collected from ET-Plus terminals, manufactured by Trinity Industries, installed in five states showed “no evidence to suggest there are multiple versions” of that product on U.S. highways.

Deputy FHWA Administrator Greg Nadeau announced in a March 13 conference call to reporters that the ET-Plus passed a battery of four crash tests when installed at a 31-inch height. FHWA previously announced the ET-Plus had passed tests at a height of 27 3/4 inches.

While it is up to state departments of transportation to decide whether to deploy the product, Nadeau said the ET-Plus “remains eligible for federal funding.”

Earlier in the week, the FHWA-AASHTO task force reported that FHWA personnel had measured 1,048 of the guardrail units from Arizona, California, Illinois, South Carolina and Texas, and the results “indicate with 98 percent confidence that the sample in this report represents the devices on the nation’s roadways.”

The task force report came after some news reports have questioned whether the guardrails that have undergone a new series of FHWA-required crash tests this year accurately represent those deployed along U.S. highways.

Nadeau said the sampling from across the country shows that the tests covered the actual products that have been installed.

“The data and the conclusions of this task force clearly indicate that the devices recently tested are representative of the ET-Plus devices on the nation’s roadways,” he said, “and that the results of those tests can and should be used as part of our comprehensive process to evaluate the safety and performance of the ET-Plus."

The groups said FHWA engineers took measurements of several aspects of the device, and that “the data do not support the assertion that there are multiple versions of the device. In addition, the measurements of the devices that were recently crash tested are all within the dimensions represented in the sample.”

That review was from one of two task forces the FHWA and AASHTO formed early this year to examine some of the allegations made about the ET-Plus system.

“A second joint task force is reviewing a broad range of crash reports from multiple sources, to determine if the ET-Plus has potential vulnerabilities that could compromise its ability to perform as designed,” the two organizations said. They said they will also make the results of that task force's work public when its analysis of crash reports is complete.

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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