Guardrails are a critical component of highway safety. They prevent drivers from crossing over the median into oncoming traffic and they help prevent rollover accidents when vehicles are slammed to the side of the roads. But there has been controversy over the safety of certain types of guardrails that have been installed across the country and just what types of dangers they pose.
The issue that is raising concerns is the end caps that are on many guardrails. These caps can cause the guardrail to buckle from the force of an impact – the very thing it is supposed to stop. When the guardrail collapses, it creates a spike which pierces through the vehicle and into occupants inside. There have been numerous victims who have lost limbs and their lives from these defective caps.
How the Cap Is Supposed to Work
The guardrail caps are placed on the ends of the rails to protect any drivers who crash into them. The sharp edges of the guardrails could puncture the vehicle, causing severe or fatal injuries to anyone inside. The cap serves two purposes: First, when the vehicle hits the cap, the rail is pushed through a flat slot on the cap and is flatten so that it cannot puncture the vehicle. Secondly, there is a blade on the back of the cap which, upon impact, dislodges the rail from the support posts, making it less likely to pierce the vehicle. These caps were approved by the federal government and placed on guardrails throughout the U.S.
The Defect in the Cap
Unfortunately, the company that makes the caps decided to put profit over safety and looked for ways to cheaply produce them. Originally, the cheaper version of the caps the produced worked just as well as the original versions. However, the next round of changes did not work as well. The slot that is supposed to flatten the guardrail upon impact was made smaller. But by making it smaller, it made it harder for the rail to fit through and, in many cases, the rails jam. When the rail jams up, it does not flatten out as is is should, but instead folds over and becomes a sharp point, capable of doing the very thing the cap is supposed to stop, puncturing the vehicle and harming occupants.
The dangerous issue is not a new one. This has been known for several years and yet victims continue to suffer catastrophic injuries from these defective guardrail caps. Although there have been moratoriums on any new installations, they remain on hundreds of thousands of guardrails all over the country.
Contact a Carolinas Injury Attorney
If you have been injured because of a dangerous or defective product, contact a North Carolina defective product attorney to discuss what type of legal recourse you may have against the party or parties responsible for your injuries. It is not uncommon in these types of cases to have more than one entity that may be liable.