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Missouri acts to ban certain highway guardrail installations, pt.2

This case comes against a backdrop of what will be a record year for automotive recalls, and questions of the quality of supervision provided by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the auto manufacturers.

The guardrail case has raised questions of whether it was redesigned and properly tested, and why the Federal Highway Administration was unaware of the change.

There are also questions of a private meeting between an FHA engineer and the manufacturer, which seems to have ended any examination of the guardrail. Whatever occurred, there was no official reason for the apparent decision to not require new tests on the redesigned guardrail

The FHA had drafted a letter two years ago that would have required the company to perform additional tests on the redesigned guardrail and head, but for reasons that remain unclear, the agency never sent that letter.

State transportation departments have begun to act on their own, and two weeks ago, the FHA requested those departments forward information concerning crashes involving these guardrails to the agency to review.

Last week, the FHA also finally ordered retesting of the guardrail heads and demanded that they be present during the tests. If the company fails to comply, the FHA could revoke federal funding for installation of any more of the guardrails.

There seems to be disturbing trend, where oversight has become hindsight, and action only occurs after enough people have been killed or severely injured.

The New York Times, "As Safety Concerns Grow, More States Ban Use of a Guardrail Unit," Aaron M. Kessler and Danielle Ivory, October 22, 2014

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