The state of American infrastructure is laughable. Roads, bridges, buildings, sewers—just about everything we depend on in our day to day lives—are in bad shape. But did you know how often guardrails are installed in ways that will potentially kill or mangle you? Steve Eimers wants you to know, and he’s made a YouTube channel about it.
Steve isn’t just another lovable YouTube weirdo documenting his quirky obsession with America’s failed infrastructure; he’s a Dad who lost a daughter in a crash that he believes proved fatal because of a poorly-designed guardrail.
Understandably, Steve has taken an interest in guardrails, which are supposed to be critical safety devices, but can easily turn into potentially deadly roadside obstacles. Take a look around his channel and you’ll find some truly horrifying examples of how state departments of transportation botch installs of these safety critical pieces of infrastructure, let them rot apart, and repair them in dangerous ways. But he’s not just documenting and complaining, his efforts have shamed some agencies into repairing sections of guardrail.
Guardrails serve an important purpose on our roads, as if you couldn’t guess. From the Federal Highway Authority:
Guardrails function as a system, which includes the guardrail itself, the posts, the soil that the posts are driven in, the connection of the guardrail to the posts, the end terminal, and the anchoring system at the end terminal. All these elements have a bearing in how the guardrail will function upon impact. To simplify, a guardrail consists of two key functional components: the end terminal and the guardrail face. 2 The Guardrail Face. The face is the length of the guardrail extending from the end terminal alongside the road. Its function is always to redirect the vehicle back onto the roadway.
In other words, it’s real, real important that every part of the guard rail be installed correctly and tested for standard crash-worthiness. The public and the press are beginning to take notice that this gold standard is not being upheld on America’s roads. Unfortunately, these revelations often come only after a fatal crash. A recent report from WCNC in North Carolina found “Frankensteined guardrails” made of mismatched and missing parts across the state. News outlets in Washington D.C., Florida, Virginia and Georgia have all found similar problems are widespread on those state’s roads.
Next time you spot a rusty, half unbolted guardrail on the side of the road, imagine it entering the passenger compartment of your car at high speed and thank whoever controls road funding in your state for their service.