Guardrail Accident Statistics in Texas

guardrail accident statistics

Although guardrails are an essential safety feature of Texas highways, they can also pose a significant hazard to vehicles that collide with them. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 103,000 accidents involving guardrails in one recent year. A total of 947 of these crashes were fatal, and 29,000 caused injury. That year, guardrail accidents were one of the top ten most common types of car accidents.

While some studies have found that guardrails can reduce the rate of severe injury or fatality in highway accidents, other investigations have found evidence that some guardrail system designs may increase the risk of severe injury or death in the event of a guardrail accident. In these cases, the guardrail manufacturers may be liable for damages that occur involving their guardrails.

How Common Are Guardrails in Texas?

Guardrails are typically installed on most  Texas roadways to prevent vehicles from departing the roadway and crashing into fixed objects. They’re also installed on sloped, curved roadways to provide fall protection and prevent vehicles from leaving the roadway due to loss of control. If you’re driving in Texas, chances are you’ll encounter guardrails in a wide variety of settings and circumstances.

What Is the Purpose of Guardrails?

States install highway guardrails to shield vehicles from natural or man-made obstacles along the road. When a driver loses control of their vehicle, a guardrail should prevent them from departing the roadway and potentially striking an object or obstacle along the road. Guardrails also prevent vehicles from falling off a bridge or overpass.

Do Guardrails Serve Their Purpose in Texas?

One U.S. Department of Transportation study found that 54 percent of traffic fatalities occurred due to vehicles leaving the roadway. Guardrail systems are designed to prevent these situations by keeping vehicles on the road rather than violently striking property or objects alongside the highway. While guardrails may do an effective job, research into their overall effectiveness and opportunities for improved performance is ongoing.

Unfortunately, some guardrail systems have proven equally or more dangerous to vehicle occupants in accidents as striking an obstacle along the road. For example, striking the end cap or end terminal of a guardrail can prove dangerous as the guardrail might pierce through the vehicle if the guardrail doesn’t function properly extrude through the end terminal. Instead of extruding the guardrail upon impact as designed, the guardrail sometimes jams and forms a metal spear as the guardrail folds upon itself.  That metal spear can penetrate the car compartment and cause severe injuries, amputations, and death.  Guardrails must be designed, installed, and maintained properly or they may fail in routine collisions.  

Statistics and Research Suggest Guardrails Are a Major Safety Risk

A landmark study conducted by the University of Alabama-Birmingham found that a widely used model of highway guardrail put vehicle occupants at a higher risk of severe injuries or fatalities. The study also found that the system had a higher risk of severe injury and death than the prior model of guardrails manufactured by the same company.

A news investigation also examined reports that the guardrails would spear through cars rather than ribboning out and absorbing impacts when struck from the front. A study by the Federal Highway Administration also found performance limitations with other guardrail designs concerning impact and installation conditions.

Contact a Houston Guardrail Accident Lawyer for Help

When you or someone you know has suffered injuries or died because of a guardrail accident in Texas, you deserve to recover compensation for your losses. A defective guardrail accident lawsuit can help with your recovery. At Fibich, Leebron, Copeland & Briggs, we have several decades of experience handling severe injury cases, including Texas guardrail collisions.

Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Let a Houston guardrail accident attorney from our Houston law firm discuss your legal options for obtaining a financial recovery.

At Fibich, Leebron, Copeland & Briggs, we draw from over a century of combined legal know-how and expertise. With the tenacity to win and the resources to get us there, our lawyers provide strong representation for injured victims and their families.