Are highway guardrails dangerous in Tennessee?

Reports of a teenage driver who died after colliding with a highway guardrail have spurred an investigation by Fox 17 into the safety of Tennessee guardrails. The 17-year-old woman drove into a guardrail that is supposed to collapse on impact and prevent severe damage and injuries.

In this case, however, the guardrail sliced into the young woman's vehicle, struck the woman on the head and instantly killed her. The parents commented to news reporters that this wasn't supposed to happen. To make matters even more unbelievable, the state of Tennessee sent a bill to the parents requesting that they pay $3,000 to repair the guardrail.

The guardrail that caused the girl's death was known as a Lindsey x-lite guardrail. There are approximately 2,000 of them in use around the state, and they're dangerous. They're supposed to absorb impacts and prevent the most catastrophic of injuries, but according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the devices are not working the way they're supposed to.

Only six days before the young woman died in the above accident, the state had placed a stop order on the use of x-lite guard rails. However, an additional four months passed before the state ordered the removal and replacement of x-lite guardrails.

When a feature of the roadway is clearly dangerous, but the state does not correct the problem in a timely fashion, it's possible that the state of Tennessee will open itself up to serious liability concerns. Drivers and passengers injured by dangerous roadway features may have viable claims to pursue personal injury damages from the state in these cases.

Source:, "Fox 17 Investigates: Dangerous guardrails on Tennessee Highways," Scott Couch, April 26, 2017

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