A roadway guardrail that was at the center of an NBC 7 Investigates report will no longer be installed or used along freeways in California.
“Caltrans has suspended the installation of X-Lite guardrail end treatment systems for all state highway projects,” said Mark Dinger, Media Relations Manager for Caltrans said on Thursday.
NBC7 Investigates found the X-Lite guardrail was hit by drivers in at least nine fatal accidents, including one accident earlier this year along Interstate-8 in Jacumba.
In a letter to the manufacturer of the X-Lite guardrail end treatment, Lindsay Transportation Solutions, the state said they have removed the guardrail from the state’s Authorized Materials List and will be replacing damaged X-Lite guardrails with another MASH compliant product. MASH or the Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware standards have been implemented nationwide by the Federal Highway Administration.
Out of 804 X-Lite end terminal guardrail systems installed across California, 20-percent are installed along roadways in San Diego County, according to an NBC 7 Investigates analysis of Caltrans inventory data. A majority of the X-Lite guardrails are installed along Interstate-8 and Interstate-15.
To see where X-Lite guardrail systems are installed in San Diego County, look below or click here.
NBC 7 Investigates has reached out to Lindsay Transportation Solutions for a comment on the new development but have not heard back.
Update - August 31: On Friday, a spokesperson for Lindsay Transportation Solutions sent NBC 7 Investigates this statement, "Road safety equipment continues to evolve with the advancement of new technology and to account for design changes in both our automobiles and highways...The standards for this product are in effect and states, such as California, are transitioning to the new requirements." To read the company's full statement, click here.
In a previous statement, Tamara Hinton, a spokesperson for Lindsay Transportation Solutions told NBC 7 Investigates their guardrails have “saved lives and reduced the number and severity of injuries sustained from automobile accidents.”
NBC 7 Investigates and NBC 4 Responds in Washington D.C. (WRC) found X-Lite end terminals are no longer being approved by some other states for future installations.
As of this year, 13 states are in the process of removing X-Lite end terminals from their roadways, according to WRC.
On Thursday, Caltrans said they will only replace X-Lite guardrails if they are damaged in an accident. Dinger with Caltrans said the state is not taking the step of proactive replacement but will continue to study any safety risks with the X-Lite guardrail.