Guardrails are made to protect people and promote safety on the road, but if they instead cause fatal accidents, this issue needs to be corrected as quickly as possible.
Luckily, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) along with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is taking the issue seriously. The X-lite end terminals have been involved in four fatal accidents in 2016 and the road safety associations are moving away from the dangerously malfunctioning guardrail as a result. FHWA has indicated that a new updated set of guardrail regulations known as the Manual for Assessing Hardware (MASH) must be implemented by December 31, 2019. TDOT is applying the regulations this coming year.
TDOT plans to open bids for contracts to build the new MASH-approved guardrails that have end terminals that won’t malfunction when impacted. Once the contracts are approved, they can begin building immediately. The proper authorities have 30 days to award the contracts before construction begins.
The federal agencies will update the quality product list to make sure the guardrails will be updated and maintained on a consistent basis. There will be new guardrail ends and X-lite terminal ends will be removed from the list. It is a considerable undertaking to remove and replace the X-lite terminal ends, but a worthy one.
TDOT is moving quickly to change their guardrails to the more updated standard, and Ontario should follow suit. Having X-lite guardrails on the road is a hazard and should be removed all over North America. Changing the approvals product list and awarding contracts en masse is very proactive and shows that TDOT takes safety mechanisms seriously. Ontario could take a few lessons from TDOT and award contracts in the province to replace the faulty end terminals, and out the safety of drivers and passengers first.