Controversial 'X-Lites' remain in Kansas despite deaths

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- More than a dozen deaths nationwide are being blamed on the one of the safety features at the end of guardrails, known as X-Lites.

Several states are removing all X-Lite guard rails due to the risk but you can still find them in Kansas.

Tennessee was in the process of removing damaged X-Lites in November 2017 when Stephen Eimers’ daughter Hannah was killed.

"I believe had my daughter hit any other product that day she would be alive,” Eimers said.

Upon impact an X-Lite guardrail should collapse on itself. When 17-year-old Hannah Eimers' car hit it, police say it locked up and acted like a spear, penetrating the driver’s door and hitting her chest and head.

“We trusted that we had a piece of safety equipment on the side of the road that would make her accident survivable,” Eimers said.

The Kansas Department of Transportation says 27 are in use on roads in their jurisdiction. All are in north and south central parts of the state and around Kansas City. KDOT Communications Specialist, Nicole Randall says they will eventually all be gone.

“Kansas is being proactive in that we're removing it from our pre-qualified materials list but we're also as they get damaged we're removing them and replacing them with something else from that list,” said Randall. “But as of now we are not just going out and replacing them."

KDOT says with no reported problems with X-Lites, there’s no immediate need for widespread removal.

Hanna's father says the state is taking too great a chance.

"They are playing Russian Roulette with somebody's son or daughter and it's inexcusable,” Eimers said.

The Federal Highway Administration has not called for a nationwide removal of X-Lites. They state the end terminals successfully passed their safety and crash tests.