Having the word trinity attached to your product might give your company some instant branding credibility. The connotation may carry a lot of weight with people of some faiths. But if the product to which the word is associated is suspected of causing more harm than good, such branding can backfire. This is something that Trinity Industries Inc. may be learning very directly.
Trinity is a manufacturer of road safety guardrail systems that are widely in use across the country, including here in Connecticut. But they have been banned from use in the state since late last year. That’s because there are concerns that motorists can be impaled and killed if they strike the rails in an accident. The ban is reportedly to stay in force pending further testing which is expected to be occurring.
What makes this particularly noteworthy is that the testing is not going to be done by the Federal Highway Administration, but rather the state of Virginia. And the reason that is happening is because state officials believe previous federal testing was inadequate.
Plans call for six more tests to be conducted by Virginia officials starting this month. The Federal Highway Administration says it will monitor the results. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice is in the midst of a criminal investigation into Trinity and its relationship with the highway administration.
Virginia officials say they plan to test the ET-Plus guardrail system using tougher criteria than federal officials used. Trinity, not surprisingly, is critical of the effort. It is particularly angry that other brands of guardrails aren’t being subjected to the same scrutiny.
The implication this news has for the victim of a car accident is great. If someone in a motor vehicle accident collides with a Trinity safety guardrail and is seriously or fatally injured because that rail failed to function as designed, the manufacturer may be liable for the pain, suffering and losses that result. An attorney should be consulted in any event.