State officials said Monday that they will remove highway guardrail end caps manufactured by a Nebraska company that have been the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging safety defects.
The Nebraska Department of Transportation said in a news release that it is "temporarily discontinuing" the use of the X-Lite guardrail end treatment, a system manufactured by Omaha-based Lindsay Corp.
"Although Nebraska has no negative experiences with the X-Lite, there are enough questions around the nation regarding the in-service performance of the end treatment to cause NDOT to pause, take a step back and see what steps the manufacturer takes to resolve these outstanding questions and concerns,” the department said in a news release.
Nebraska has four X-Lite end caps in use, all on the Platte River bridge south of Central City on Nebraska 14. A Roads Department spokeswoman said they will be removed in the "fairly near future" and replaced with a different system.
The department also said it will remove the X-Lite end caps from its list of approved guardrail end treatments.
A lawsuit filed last week in South Carolina alleges that design defects in the end caps caused a woman's death in April 2017. Another lawsuit filed last week in Tennessee alleges the end caps caused severe injuries to a woman that led to her having a leg amputated.
Two other lawsuits filed in June in Tennessee alleged the guardrails were responsible for three deaths in two crashes.
The lawsuits allege that instead of telescoping to absorb impact when vehicles hit them, as they are designed to do, the guardrail end caps pierced through vehicles.
Lindsay said in a statement that when properly installed and maintained, "roadside hardware like X-Lite will reduce the number and severity of injuries sustained in car accidents."
"While X-Lite has successfully passed crash and safety tests in accordance with Federal standards, there is no road safety equipment that can prevent injury every time a driver fails to stay on the road," the company said. "Lindsay continues to work collaboratively with road safety stakeholders on national initiatives to enhance safety on America’s roadways.”