Road Injury Prevention Litigation Journal
Road Injury Prevention & Litigation Journal
Copyright © 2000 by TranSafety, Inc.
May, 2000
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Tulsa City Personnel Held Liable in Work Zone Accident
Originally published in the May 1986 TranSafety Reporter

(This summary of a legal case related to highway work zone safety is reproduced from the May 1986 (Volume IV, No. 5) issue of the TranSafety Reporter, published and edited by Roy W. Anderson, P.E. To find technical articles from the Reporter on work zone topics, please check on-line editions of the "Road Management and Engineering Journal" at this web site.)

A jury in Tulsa recently found the city negligent in not protecting a motorist from the hazard a work zone presented to her.

Mary Thomas was driving on a four-lane, downtown street in the city of Tulsa at 10:30 on the night of December 30, 1981 when she struck barricades which had been placed around an open manhole in the street. After striking the barricades, her car went out of control and hit a nearby sign pole, causing the injuries sustained in the collision.

City public works personnel had placed five barricades, with flashers, around the open manhole. The furthest barricade was 75 feet from the manhole. No warning signs were present at the site.

Evidence at the trial showed that the barricades had been knocked down several times prior to Ms. Thomas' hitting them. They had been last put up, just before this accident, by a city policeman who put three barricades around the manhole itself. He did this five hours before Ms. Thomas had her accident.

Further testimony at the trial showed that the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) requires that barricades used for purposes such as those involved in this accident should be tapered and extend for 160 feet, at least, away from the work site. The MUTCD also calls for the use of warning signs in addition to the barricades.

The jury found the city was negligent in protecting this work zone, but also found that Ms. Thomas was 40% negligent and adjusted the award of $60,000 appropriately.

TranSafety Reporter thanks Mr. Paul Graves, PE, of Wichita, Kansas, (316-942-2538) for information on this case. Mr. Graves served as an expert witness for the plaintiff. John L. Harlan, (918) 227-2590, represented Ms. Thomas. (Tulsa County CT82-1002).

Copyright © 2000 by TranSafety, Inc.

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