A Maryland mother is putting her voice behind the fight to have a controversial guardrail removed from the nation’s roads.
Sandra Johnson-Carter testified in front of the Tennessee House Transportation Committee Tuesday, supporting a resolution that would call on the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to order a national recall of the X-LITE.
Her son, 18-year-old Michael Carter Jr., died in February after crashing into an X-LITE on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Carter was just starting his career in the Marines and died in uniform.
Johnson-Carter wrote a letter to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan asking him to have all X-LITEs removed from state roads. Hogan told News4 last week that any further action to be taken about the controversial guardrail is being researched by the Maryland Department of Transportation.
At least seven other people have died after crashing into X-LITE guardrail end pieces.
Five lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturer, Lindsay Transportation Solutions, claiming the X-LITE is defective — in some cases spearing vehicles instead of deflecting them.
It’s unclear what caused Carter to run off the road. Maryland State Police and the State Highway Administration are still investigating Carter's crash, and have not determined whether the X-LITE was at fault. Photos from the accident scene show the guardrail was ripped off.
"Right now, we have no information that indicates it did pierce the vehicle, so that's the whole idea of waiting for the reconstruction report," said John Schofield of the Maryland State Highway Administration.
The X-LITE is no longer being installed as states move to products that meet updated crash-test standards, but thousands of the guardrail end pieces are already in place across the country.
At least 10 states are currently replacing X-LITES — some due to safety concerns and others as part of an effort to update all roadside barriers to products that meet new crash-test standards.
In a statement to News4, Lindsay Transportation Solutions said:
"Lindsay Transportation Solutions builds road safety equipment that reduces risks for drivers on America’s roads. Lindsay proactively offers a variety of training resources to help states and contractors with proper hardware installation and maintenance, such as road safety tours, a mobile app available in four languages, and onsite training. 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. When properly installed and maintained, roadside hardware like X-LITE will reduce the number and severity of injuries sustained in car accidents. Lindsay continues to work collaboratively with road safety stakeholders on national initiatives to enhance safety on America’s roadways."