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May, 1998 Articles

May 1, 1998
Texas DOT Liable for Motorist's Death Caused by "Special Defect" in Roadway

A steep drop-off between the traffic lane and the road shoulder caused a crash in which a motorist died. The motorist's mother sued the Texas Department of Public Highways and Public Transportation (DOT). The jury found that the DOT had no knowledge of the defect and decided in their favor. The Court of Appeals of Texas, Beaumont reversed the trial court's decision. The appeals court held that the drop-off was a "special defect" and that the DOT should have known of the condition.

May 1, 1998
Nebraska County Not Liable for Injuries Due to Culvert Washout

A family suffered injuries when their truck fell into a hole created during a rainstorm that washed away the soil surrounding a recently installed culvert. They sued Boone County (County), claiming that culverts in the area were inadequate to drain water accumulated during a storm of reasonably expected severity. The District Court, Boone County, entered a judgment in favor of the County. The Supreme Court of Nebraska, finding no evidence that the County breached its duty to construct and maintain highways and bridges in a reasonably safe condition, affirmed the trial court's decision.

May 1, 1998
Indiana Court Affirms Nonparty Defense Allocating Negligence to City for Failing to Remove Tree Obstructing Stop Sign

A woman injured in a collision at an intersection where a tree obscured the cross-traffic stop sign sued the other driver for negligence. The defendant named the city as a nonparty, claiming the city's negligence in allowing the tree to remain in front of the sign caused the crash. When the trial court found for the defendant, the injured woman filed four issues for review by the Court of Appeals of Indiana. The appeals court affirmed the lower court's decision, finding (1) the city work order offered by the defendant was admissible in supporting his nonparty defense, (2) the verdict forms and instructions submitted to the trial jury were proper, (3) the jury's decision that the city had constructive notice of a dangerous condition was appropriate, and (4) testimony about the work order was admissible to show the city had notice of the dangerous condition.

May 1, 1998
Study Reports on the Effectiveness of Photo-Radar and Speed Display Boards

Speeding remains a major safety concern on the nation's roadways. To combat the speeding problem, law enforcement has enlisted the help of "two of the most technologically sophisticated forms of . . . automated speed control"--photo-radar and speed display boards. Photo-radar detects speeding, takes photographs of speeding vehicles, and issues their drivers citations by mail. Speed display boards flash drivers their speeds next to the posted speed limit sign. This article describes a California study comparing the costs of photo-radar and speed display boards and their effectiveness in reducing vehicle speeds. It is a summary of "A Comparative Study of the Speed Reduction Effects of Photo-Radar and Speed Display Boards," a paper prepared by Steven A. Bloch for the January 1998 meeting of the Transportation Research Board.

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