Grieving Fredonia family leads charge for safer roads through infrastructure bill

US Capitol Coverage

FREDONIA, N.Y. (WIVB) — The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that passed last week will make major investments in roads, railways, and bridges. It will also bring new safety measures – a movement spearheaded by Fredonia native Stephen Eimers after his 17-year-old daughter was killed on the interstate.

“That morning, she was headed back to school and she never made it home,” said Eimers. “An X-Lite guardrail, manufactured by the Lindsay Corporation, tore through her car, and Hannah was eviscerated.”

X-Lite guardrails are not just in New York. Hannah’s crash happened in Tennessee, and Eimers says the State of Missouri is suing the Lindsay Corporation, alleging fraud in the crash testing of their guardrails. The infrastructure bill passed in Washington D.C. now requires companies to include a third party to verify those test results.

“In 2016, the government accountability office identified weaknesses in federal oversight, and it showed that companies were self-certifying their products,” explained Eimers. “Basically, they were testing and saying, ‘Oh! We passed.'”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand helped Eimers place a priority request that the bill include integrity crash testing language. “Roadside safety features like guardrails line America’s highways, but some guardrails have been proven to be defective and deadly. Guardrails should be protecting us from harm, not causing it,” she said. “New York State has been a leader in the effort to remove defective guardrails from our roads, and now the rest of America can follow suit.”

In a written statement to NEWS10’s sister station in Buffalo, News 4, a representative with the Lindsay Corporation says, “The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) examined and re-examined the X-LITE and its in-service performance and gathered input from state departments of transportation across the United States. In FHWA’s evaluations, the X-LITE performed consistently with other end terminals on U.S. roads and highways and did not lead to any conclusion that the X-Lite was unsafe. Numerous states, including New York, have confirmed that they’ve had no negative experiences with the X-LITE.”

Eimers says he won’t stop pushing the federal government, and the Department of Transportation until the manufacturing company is prosecuted.

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