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Road Injury Prevention & Litigation Journal
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March 1, 1998
New York State Found Liable for Motorist's Death in Rock Slide on State Thruway

A death and an injury resulted from a rock slide on a New York highway. The injured driver and the husband of the deceased passenger sued the State of New York (State). The Court of Claims entered a judgment for the plaintiffs, finding that the State's bolting-and-strapping project to prevent rocks from falling on the roadway "lacked a reasonable basis." Moreover, the court found the project was "without adequate study." The State appealed. The Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department held that the State of New York was liable for the rock slide.

March 1, 1998
Court Upholds Georgia Driver's Reckless Conduct Conviction for Injury to County Road Worker

County employees were working in a ditch beside Black Shoals Road, a gravel road maintained by the county and crossing Mr. Cowan's private land. Cowan drove on the wrong side of the road beside the ditch--shouting at the county employees. He passed so close that his truck's side mirror struck a county employee, seriously injuring the worker's arm. The trial jury in the State Court, Rockdale County, Georgia convicted Cowan of reckless conduct. The Court of Appeals of Georgia affirmed the trial court's decision, maintaining that the driver's conduct disregarded the risk that his act would cause harm and deviated from the behavior of a reasonable person in such a situation.

March 1, 1998
Contributory Negligence of Driver and Parish in Louisiana Intersection Crash Affirmed

A driver, his wife, and another passenger sued the State of Louisiana (State) and East Baton Rouge Parish (Parish) for injuries received in a crash at the intersection of a Parish road and a State highway. The 19th Judicial District Court, Parish of East Baton Rouge dismissed the claim against the State and assigned fault to the driver and the Parish. The Parish was found negligent because it had constructive notice that foliage blocked the sign and had failed to clear the obstruction. Moreover, the Parish had failed to post a stop-ahead sign for the intersection. Both the Parish and the plaintiffs appealed. The Court of Appeal of Louisiana, First Circuit's findings supported the contributory negligence of the driver and the Parish and confirmed that the State had no duty to maintain Parish warning signs.

March 1, 1998
Trucker Survey Highlights Causes of Drowsy Driving and Suggests Preventive Measures

Research has shown that fatigue is not only "common" but also an "important crash factor" in crashes involving heavy trucks. "Drowsy driving" among long-distance truck drivers is believed to be "underreported as a crash factor." A recent study surveyed long-distance truck drivers to "gather in-depth information on work and rest patterns and experiences with sleepiness-related driving." The results of the study were documented by Anne T. McCartt, Mark C. Hammer, and Sandra Z. Fuller in their article "Work and Sleep/Rest Factors Associated with Driving While Drowsy: Experiences Among Long-Distance Truck Drivers," The Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine published the report in their 41st Annual Proceedings, Orlando, FL, November 10-11, 1997. Results "confirm[ed] that driving while drowsy is a common experience for [truck] drivers."

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