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August, 1998 Articles

August 1, 1998
Pennsylvania Court Affirms Real Estate Exception to Commonwealth's Sovereign Immunity

The husband of a motorist killed when an overhanging tree branch fell on her car sued the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The trial court decided in favor of the motorist's estate. Affirming the decision, the appeals court determined it was the DOT's responsibility to know about the hazard created by topping the tree and by leaving a disproportionately large limb over the roadway. The appeals court agreed this dangerous condition came within the real estate exception to the Commonwealth's sovereign immunity.


August 1, 1998
Summary Judgment Reversed in Minnesota Edge Drop-Off Case

A motorist pulled onto a highway shoulder and found it was too narrow for his truck. When he tried to re-enter the highway, his tires caught on a steep drop-off at the edge of the pavement; he received injuries in the resulting rollover. The motorist sued, and the trial court concluded that the state had no duty to warn because it had no notice of a dangerous condition. The appeals court reversed, finding a material issue of fact as to whether the state created the dangerous condition, and thus had a duty to warn.


August 1, 1998
Shoulder Rumble Strips Proven Effective on the Pennsylvania Turnpike

In an effort to alert drowsy or inattentive drivers when they drift onto the shoulder, a number of states are testing "an innovative type of shoulder rumble strip called the Sonic Nap Alert Pattern (SNAP)." Because raised strips had been found to create problems for snowplows and service vehicles, Pennsylvania Turnpike engineers "tested only narrow and recessed rumble strip patterns with varying lengths and depths . . ." John J. Hickey, Jr. reported the findings of the Turnpike installation and testing. This article summarizes his report. Results showed that SNAP reduced the number of yearly drift-off-road (DOR) crashes by about 100, which was a 60 percent reduction."


August 1, 1998
Ejection from Vehicles Involved in Fatal Crashes Is Increasing

Ejection during a crash increases the likelihood of fatalities and injuries. A recent analysis of crash data focused on the factors influencing ejection in fatal crashes. Factors studied included safety belt use, average speed, driver age, percentage of light trucks involved in crashes, and rollover. John Winnicki reported on the results of this study in "Analysis of Ejection in Fatal Crashes," a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Technical Report, published in November 1997. This is a summary of information in that report.


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TranSafety's journal on liability and risk management for road maintenance, engineering, and law professionals. Articles summarize litigated road design, traffic control, and construction zone cases. tort, liability, law, legal, courts,
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