The Tennessee Department of Transport is currently in the process of removing X-Lite guardrails on state roads.
TDOT will be replacing these guardrails due to safety concerns.
Steve Eimers said it was one of these X-Lite guardrails that killed his 17-year-old daughter Hannah.
“She hit a guardrail that went through her car, killing her instantly,” Eimers said. “The girl that she was with walked away with barely any injuries, so it led me to start asking questions.”
Eimers said he later found out, just a few months before his daughter’s death, three other people died in two separate crashes when their cars hit the X-Lite end terminal and the guardrail pierced their car.
It was those crashes and other information that led TDOT to make a decision in 2017 to remove and replace all X-Lite guardrails across the state.
So far TDOT has removed 1,951 guardrails in Tennessee.
It’s something Eimers said he has been waiting for.
“I think that it’s a mixed feeling, you know,” Eimers said. “This is a product that should have never been approved for use.”
TDOT spokesperson Mark Nagi said there are still about 36 guardrails left to be replaced; 32 of those are in East Tennessee.
“Until every single one of those products is out of the roadway, they are a ticking time bomb,” Eimers said.
Eimers said he is proud of the state for making the decision to remove these guardrails. He said it’s something he knows will save lives.
“Where ever this product is installed, it killed an astonishing rate,” Eimers said. “So there is no doubt in my mind there will be lives saved in the state of Tennessee.”
TDOT originally planned to have all these guardrails removed by the end of June.
Nagi said that deadline has now been extended to July to remove the last 36 in Tennessee. The total cost to remove and replace these guardrails is about $3.4 million.
Lindsay Transportation Solutions, the X-LITE guardrail producer, issued the following statement on Tuesday:
“The X-LITE end terminal has saved lives and reduced the number and severity of injuries sustained from automobile accidents. Publicly available performance data that is reported monthly to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) demonstrates that the X-LITE performs as well as or better than similar products on the market and numerous states that use the X-LITE on their roads have confirmed that they’ve had no negative experiences.
“In 2011, the FHWA issued a Safety Eligibility Letter reporting that the X-LITE passed all applicable standards and criteria. In 2017, the FHWA re-confirmed that finding in response to a request that the agency reexamine the X-LITE.
“It is important to note that road safety equipment continues to evolve with the advancement of new technology and to account for design changes in both our automobiles and highways. As such, in 2015, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) along with FHWA announced the schedule for implementing the fifth generation of road safety equipment, such as guardrail end terminals, on the National Highway System that meet new crash-testing standards. Those standards have already started to go into effect and some states have been transitioning to the new standard ahead of the sunset dates.”