ABC News 20/20 broadcast a segment about this highway danger on Friday September 19, 2014.
Victims of crashes are filing a lawsuit against Trinity Industries as the company faces increased scrutiny from researchers and regulators over the safety of their guardrail posts, meant to reduce the force of impact in a crash.
One of those victims is Jay Traylor, a 36-year-old who crashed into a Trinity guardrail terminal in North Carolina after falling sleep behind the wheel.
Trinity never disclosed the change to regulators at the Federal Highway Administration, and the agency continued to allow Trinity-manufactured terminals along United States highways.
In an internal email from 2004, a Trinity executive writes that decreasing the size of the part one inch would save $2 per terminal, adding up to $50,000 in savings a year.
'If TTI [Texas A&M Transportation Institute] agrees, we could make this change with no announcement,' the email continues.
'A spear came through my car': Crash victims allege that highway guardrails become deadly weapons because the manufacturer cut costs
Jay Traylor, 36, is party to a lawsuit against Trinity Industries alleging that a failing guardrail impaled him and severed his legs
Trinity Industries, a Dallas-based manufacturer, changed the terminal design used in thousands of terminals
The company never disclosed the change to the Federal Highway Authority
Joshua Harman also filed a suit, now set to be retried, saying that the company knew design changes made the terminal heads less safe
A study released by University of Alabama Birmingham came to the same conclusion
The Federal Highway Authority is now conducting a nationwide review
By PETE D'AMATO FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 15:21 EST, 20 September 2014 | UPDATED: 10:58 EST, 21 September 2014