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Photo: 2 Buddhist Prayer Wheels (mani) in a temple in Tibet (Image by James Wheeler from Pixabay)

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From prayer wheels to life savers: Guardrail innovation at work

Photo: 1 Chairman Sun-Ho Choi of ETI Korea

Chairman Sun-Ho Choi of ETI Korea

When ETI Founder and Chairman Sun-Ho Choi first started his business in Korea, he was inspired by an epiphany that he had while visiting a Buddhist Monastery in Tibet. As he shared with host Mo Rocca on the Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation television show, Chairman Choi was watching the spinning prayer wheels as they rotated around their spindles. He realized that the impact of the supplicant’s hands on the prayer wheels, which started them spinning, was spread out over the surface and redirected in a lateral manner.

From this watershed moment was born the idea for the Rolling Barrier Guardrail System (RBGS) that forms the core of ETI’s many roads and highway safety hardware offerings. By converting the energy of vehicle crashes into laterally dispersed energy and redirecting the vehicles direction of travel through the rotation of the shock-absorbing foam barrels, the RBGS represents the first major innovation in guardrail technology in decades.

The history

Evolution in Traffic Innovation (ETI) was founded in Korea in 2006 as ET Industries. The company went through a 4-year period of product development and establishment. Renamed ETI Korea in 2010, the company now produces, sells, and installs a revolutionary new traffic safety system globally. The patented RBGS is an innovative solution to driver safety and has been gaining attention and acceptance globally. ETI gained ISO 9001 and ISO 4001 Certification and has been steadily selling their systems in an expanding market.

ETI USA, Inc. was formed in 2018 as the USA partner company to ETI Korea to introduce the RBGS and other road safety hardware to the USA and the Americas. Headed by President John Lee, ETI USA, Inc. has successfully completed product certification testing for the USA and has been steadily gaining US State Department of Transportation acceptance and inclusion on State Qualified Products Lists.

The RBGS is a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) test level TL3, TL4 Tested, Passed, and Eligible system and has passed the European Union (EU) EN1317 crash tests level H1 & H2, as well as obtained CE Certification.

The RBGS is bi-directional and will effectively protect medians and prevent head-on crashes (ETI Korea)

The present

The RBGS is installed and in use saving lives and protecting dangerous sections of roadway in 15 countries in Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, Middle East and the Americas. In addition to ETI Korea’s manufacturing facilities in Korea, India and Vietnam, ETI USA, Inc. has recently acquired a 50’000 square foot facility in the USA, which will serve as their principle manufacturing plant and headquarters as they continue to receive state-level certifications and qualify for “Made in the USA “status.

ETI USA, Inc. is actively engaged with state and local jurisdictions identifying dangerous sections of roadways. Designed to protect high-risk areas, the RBGS is protecting drivers from steep embankments, drop-offs, immovable roadside objects, reducing radius curves, bridge approaches and exits, tunnel approaches and exits, bridge decks, highway entrance and exit ramps, medians and anywhere that a traditional guardrail does not protect adequately.

Every jurisdiction has areas that have experienced multiple, severe, run-off-the-road accidents. Besides the obvious and immediate impact on lives, there is a corresponding cost in emergency personnel and response, medical treatment costs, repair and replacement costs, repair crew time and expense, lost wages and productivity, long-term medical costs, increased insurance rates, road closure and delays, etc. By protecting these areas with an appropriate length of need using the RBGS, ETI seeks to mitigate the severity of many crashes, prevent fatalities, and save lives.

Recognized leaders in road safety innovation

ETI USA, INC. is a proud member of the International Road Federation (IRF) and the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), as well as many other international highway safety industry organizations.

Co-winner of the ATSSA Innovation Award in 2018, the RBGS is recognized throughout the roads and highways industry for its unique and revolutionary design, as well as tremendous effectiveness in protecting against run-off-the-road crashes. Designed with modern, high center-of-gravity vehicles in mind, the RBGS is significantly more robust and taller than traditional, older-style guardrails and offers a much greater degree of safety against vaulting and roll-overs. The only semi-rigid longitudinal barrier designed to be bi-directional, the RBGS is perfect for most median applications.

The future

The global pandemic of road fatalities is an ever-increasing problem. Most traffic crashes occur in developing economies and, as populations and vehicle traffic increase, the grim statistics of vehicle-related crashes and fatalities will grow. Globally, there were over 1.35 million traffic fatalities in 2019. In the USA, with 4.3 million kilometers of paved roads, there were over 36,000 traffic fatalities in 2019 and over 40% came from run off the road crashes.

The RBGS is designed to prevent or seriously reduce the severity of run off the road crashes and ETI’s mission is to continue to innovate and introduce life-saving technologies that can be immediately placed on roads and highways worldwide so that roads can be made safer and lives can be saved.

The low-waste, semi-automated processes used by ETI to manufacture their Rolling Barrier Guardrail Systems improve cost savings and environmental impact. Its patented, state of the art injection molding process for the Ethyl Vinyl Acetate (EVA) High-Density Foam Rolling Barrels is an environmentally safe, low-water use process, and ETI actively engages in materials recycling, using LED lighting and high-efficiency processes in all their facilities to minimize impact on the environment and protect natural resources.

4 State of the Art RGBS manufacturing facility in South Korea (ETI Korea)

ETI and ETI USA will continue to expand their global market and presence. With the addition of the USA manufacturing facility, ETI will rapidly expand its product availability throughout the Americas and continue to work closely with city, county, state and national authorities to install the RBGS and protect all road users!

For more information, please visit www.etiusainc.com

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