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Virginia to remove guardrail heads linked to fatalities

Virginia is preparing to remove many potentially dangerous guardrail heads from its roadways. The guardrail heads in question have been linked to several car crashes that have resulted in severe injury and death.

The equipment that may be removed is not the guardrails themselves but the end caps placed at the beginning and end of each rail. These particular guardrail heads, also known as X-LITES, are common throughout the South. They were first put into use in 2011, quickly becoming widespread in many states. The guardrail heads were allegedly put through extensive safety tests by the Federal Highway Administration.

However, there have been at least 11 accidents involving X-LITE guardrail heads in which motorists were severely injured, maimed and even killed when the metal equipment pierced their vehicles. Two of the families of motorists who died in crashes involving X-LITES have filed wrongful death suits against the company. The accidents have grown so numerous that no fewer than 12 states are also preparing to remove X-LITES from streets and highways.

The issue caught Virginia officials’ attention in late 2016 after several fatal accidents involving the guardrail heads. The state soon conducted its own safety tests on the X-LITES. While the guardrail heads in the test did not penetrate the cars, they did cause two of the test vehicles to flip and roll over. As a result, they have been removed from the Department’s Approved Products List. Virginia, along with other Southern states like Tennessee, Missouri, Oklahoma and South Carolina, will soon remove all X-LITE guardrail heads from its roadways.