Whistle-blower works to get guardrails off NC roads

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Man on mission to remove dangerous guardrails from NC roadways.

A whistle-blower who sued the maker of a controversial guardrail and won millions is urging North Carolina lawmakers to remove them from the state's roadways.

Josh Harman, one of Virginia's largest customers of Trinity Industries, filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer in 2014 after discovering a critical change to the dimensions of its ET-Plus guardrail in 2005. The company failed to notify federal regulators as required by law.

FULL VIEW OF THE DIAGRAM HERE (.pdf)

Diagram of the revised guardrail. Click the .PDF link above for a full view.



Harman hauled one of the guardrails into the lobby of the state legislative building Tuesday to educate lawmakers about what he calls a "death cocktail" for drivers.

Josh Harman hauled one of the guardrails into the lobby of the state legislative building Tuesday to educate lawmakers about what he calls a "death cocktail" for drivers.



"There's a lot of misinformation out there, and I feel like it's imperative to show the examples of what the taxpayers pay for and what they're getting now," said Harman.

According to NC DOT, there are about 10,000 ET-Plus guardrails on roadways in North Carolina.

More than 200,000 of them exist on roads in nearly every state in the country.

In 2015, a Texas jury found Trinity Industries defrauded the U.S. government by selling states a modified product from the one states believed they were buying.

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But according to the Federal Highway Administration, crash tests show the redesigned guardrail end terminals meet government safety standards.

"I absolutely disagree with that. They were testing products that were not on the highway," said Harman. "These things are actively creating victims."

Jay Traylor still replays the gruesome accident that took both his legs in 2014.

Jay Traylor still replays the gruesome accident that took both his legs in 2014.



An ET-Plus guardrail that was supposed to protect him instead pierced his truck. Years later, he is still recovering.

"I used to get up, go to work early in the morning, stay late, work overtime, help people on my way home. I went from that to having to basically sit around the house in a recliner," Traylor said.

Traylor is suing Trinity Industries. His case goes to trial next month in Dallas.

Currently, 29 states ban ET-Plus guardrails. Only a handful are actively removing them.

Harman is pressing North Carolina lawmakers to follow suit.

"When safety is in question, err on the side of caution. North Carolina has ignored that premise," he said.

Traylor wants to keep other drivers from becoming victims.

"We need to get the defective ones off the road and the safer ones back on so people stop being maimed and killed by them," he said.

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