Guardrail Maker, Critics Clash Over Crash Test

Trinity Industries says their guardrail is safe; senator says one crash test prompts doubt.
2:20 | 02/19/15

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Transcript for Guardrail Maker, Critics Clash Over Crash Test
A major development tonight after an ABC news investigation. One of the moms common types of guardrails on highways across this country. These images show how they're supposed to work. The guardrail absorbing the impact. But many now arguing, this is how some of them really work. Piercing many vehicles instead, countless lawsuits arguing with deadly consequences. And tonight, the new tests. They wouldn't let us in with our cameras, so, we teamed up with our station to fly overhead. What did they see? Here's Brian Ross tonight. Reporter: Reporters covering the guardrail safety tests at this Texas track were prohibited from taking any pictures. You got no phones or recording devices with you, correct? Reporter: But working with our ABC station in San Antonio, we caught it all on tape from the air. In the first seven tests, at different heights and angles, the guardrails passed or appeared to pass, with minimal damage to the test vehicle. But this eighth and final test, head-on at 62 miles per hour, had a much different result. A dangerous failure according to the U.S. Senator who demanded these tests. That final video is absolutely hideously shocking. The damage done to the driver's side is supposed to not happen. Reporter: The company says it's too soon to call it a failure. You cannot judge a crash test by pictures. You've got to wait until all the data is in, until it's analyzed. Reporter: The guard rails have to pass all eight tests to be considered safe by federal standards, and critics say they did not. It locked up, and it flipped around. This is exactly what some of the crashes we're seeing in the real world look like. Reporter: The tests come in the wake of a rash of serious and sometimes fatal accidents involving guardrails. I've lost my legs in a wreck. Reporter: By design, the head of the guardrail is supposed to absorb the impact and curl the rail away. But a successful lawsuit against the manufacturer, brought by a competitor, alleged the guardrails were modified by just an inch to save a few dollars. This failed. This is a classic failure. Reporter: Turning them into dangerous highway hazards. Since our first report here on "World news tonight," and that lawsuit, at least 35 states have suspended the use of the controversial guardrails and now it all comes down to these tests, with the official government conclusions expected very soon. Brian Ross on this case since September, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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