Caltrans Will Replace Guardrails Involved in Deadly Accidents - NBC 7 San Diego
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Caltrans Will Replace Guardrails Involved in Deadly Accidents

One family blames the guardrail product for their son’s death after he collided with one along Interstate-8 in Jacumba.

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    Caltrans Will Replace Guardrails Involved in Deadly Accidents
    Photos taken by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) show a guardrail pierced through Gonzalo Martinez's car windshield, ripped out the driver’s headrest and continued through the rear window, extending out at least 20 feet.

    Caltrans will replace approximately 800 guardrail sections on freeways across the state, acknowledging that the parts in question are “not meeting field performance expectations.” 

    The guardrails were at the center of an NBC 7 investigation last year. State data shows two-hundred of the guardrail parts, called “end terminals” are on San Diego-area freeways, most along Interstates 5 and 8. 

    To see where X-Lite guardrail systems are installed in San Diego County, look below or click here

     

    Caltrans’ decision is something of a victory for Sergio Martinez, Sr., whose 22 year-old son was killed in February, 2018. Gonzalo Martinez died after his car hit one of the guardrails on Interstate 8, near the tiny town of Jacumba. 

    Instead of slowing down his son Gonzalo’s car, Sergio claims the guardrail end piece or “end-terminal” became a fatal projectile that slammed through the car’s windshield. 

     

    The X-Lite guardrail has also been noted in deadly accidents in Tennessee, South Carolina and Maryland. 

    To read our original investigation, click here

    The company that makes those guardrails, Lindsay Transportation Solutions, defends their safety, and told us last year that its X-Lite components have saved lives and reduced injuries. 

    “Road safety equipment continues to evolve with the advancement of new technology and to account for design changes in both our automobiles and highways,” said a Lindsay Transportation Solutions spokesperson, responding to the news from Caltrans. 

    To read Lindsay Transportation Solutions’ full statement to NBC 7, click here.  

    Last August, Caltrans told NBC 7 they had removed the X-Lite guardrail from the state’s Authorized Materials List and would be replacing damaged X-Lite guardrails with a MASH compliant product. MASH or the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware standards have been implemented nationwide by the Federal Highway Administration.

    Now, Caltrans has taken an even bigger step by announcing it will replace 800 of the controversial guardrail sections across the state. 

    Those guardrail end terminals will be replaced with one of three MASH compliant end terminals. 

    The state said it’s taking this “proactive step” -- at a cost of $20 million -- even though federal highway regulations do not require replacing the X-Lite product.