nbc 7 investigates

DOJ Investigating Makers of X-Lite Highway Guardrail

The Departments of Justice and Transportation, and the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York State, are all investigating

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The company that developed and marketed a guardrail blamed for deaths on the nation’s freeways and here in San Diego confirms it’s the target of a Justice Department inquiry.

The Department of Justice and two other federal agencies are investigating a company whose highway guardrails are blamed for a number of deaths.

The X-Lite guardrail was the focus of an NBC 7 Investigates series on highway safety equipment that allegedly caused fatal injuries to the occupants of vehicles that hit those guardrails.

NBC 7 Investigates found certain guardrails may be causing worse injuries and even death for some accidents on the road. NBC 7's Mari Payton has more.

Since 2016, NBC 7 found at least nine people died nationwide after they crashed into the end piece of an X-Lite guardrail.

The guardrails are made by Lindsay Transportation Systems. Hundreds of them were installed along local freeways, mostly on Interstates 5 and 8.

In the company's recent annual report to investors, Lindsay Transportation disclosed it was informed of the investigation by the federal Departments of Justice and Transportation, and the U.S. Attorney’s office in the North District of New York State.

Lindsay Transportation revealed the probe relates to possible problems with the X-Lite guardrail and potential violations of the False Claims Act.

NBC 7 Investigates Rory Devine explains.

Both the company and the federal agencies declined to provide more information about the probes, but the False Claims Act is used by “whistleblowers” inside a company to report alleged financial or unethical corporate behavior.

Lindsay has repeatedly denied any safety problems with its products, and pointed to federal safety studies it says confirm that the company’s guardrail has “performed consistently with other (guardrails) on U.S. roads and highways.”

But California’s state transportation agency, Caltrans, is not waiting for results of the federal probe.

In March, Caltrans started replacing all X-LITE guardrails installed state-wide at a cost to taxpayers of about $20 million.

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