Posted on Friday, April 24th, 2015
Trinity Industries, a U.S. guardrail manufacturing company, is under scrutiny by the Justice Department regarding their relationship with the Federal Highway Administration. The current investigation follows on the heels of federal whistle-blower trial that Trinity lost last October, in which they were found guilty of defrauding the government by failing to disclose their new guardrail model, the ET-Plus.
The redesigned models date back to 2005 and have since been installed on highways nationwide. The design changes made units more likely to jam when hit head on, causing the metal rail to skewer the vehicle, endangering the lives of drivers and passengers.
In light of this initial case, the government ordered Trinity to put the ET-Plus through a series of crash tests, with the Federal Highway Administration announcing that the new model had passed eight crash tests. Some lawmakers, however, are skeptical of the ET-Plus’ performance, claiming that the crash tests were flawed.
The current investigation is being spearheaded by the Boston offices of the FBI and the Transportation Department. While states are ultimately responsible for their highway equipment and the safety of state citizens, the Federal Highway Administration plays an important role in approving products for federal reimbursement.
The Justice Department has issued a subpoena to recover documents from the October trial, and has so far interviewed five potential witnesses to testify in the case, including one former official of the Federal Highway Administration.