How Safe Is the X-LITE Guardrail System?

Thomas Jeter • January 23, 2018

How Safe Is the X-LITE Guardrail System?

South Carolina is one of many states to use the X-LITE Guardrail system to reduce the number of traffic accident fatalities that occur on its roads. Though the number of traffic fatalities is decreasing, many people still end up injured in car accidents.

When you hear about traffic accidents and fatalities, one of the last things that might come to mind involves the state’s guardrail system. For many, it is a godsend that has helped to save many lives. However, it is also a source of pain and suffering for some families of crash victims who lost their lives and are suffering from critical injuries. Currently, the state uses three types of guardrail systems. One of those systems is the X-LITE Guardrail.

 Research Shows Risks That Reduce Effectiveness of the X-LITE

The safety of the X-LITE Guardrail system is under question in several states. Though it is designed to help buffer crashing vehicles and keep them from falling off the roads, some critics claim it does more than that and is also likely to impale victims. Several people in different states have lost their lives after suffering from impalement from the X-LITE Guardrail system. In South Carolina alone, there were 13 crash fatalities involving the guardrails since 2016. Many other people have suffered serious injuries after coming in contact with the guardrails.

USA Today reports that the X-LITE Guardrail system has claimed a total of seven lives in six crashes in Tennessee, Missouri and Virginia. Several victims were traveling at speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour. Investigations in Tennessee and Virginia show the X-LITE system is not very effective at preventing death in accidents where vehicles are traveling more than 62.2 miles per hour.

Preliminary Federal Investigations Reveal No Issues

Several jurisdictions are in the process of removing the X-LITE system from their roads. People who oppose the use of X-LITE system believe it to be unsafe when speeds greater than 45 miles per hour are involved. Speed alone is not the sole predictor of its effectiveness. There are several other factors that come into play. The Federal Highway Safety Administration ran its own investigation into California’s, Massachusetts’, Missouri’s and Pennsylvania’s guardrail systems. Their results did not show any defects in the guardrails installed in those areas.

Other states have performed their own investigations and have removed or are currently in the process of uninstalling the X-LITE Guardrails. The Federal High Safety Administration is still looking into system data in the states that continue to use that particular rail system. South Carolina currently stands behind its decision to use and install the X-LITE system and has no plans to remove them.