Legal Liability and Highway Design and Maintenance

by David C. Oliver, Attorney-Advisor; Div. of Legislation and Opinions, Office of Chief Counsel, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C.,


Serial Information: Transportation Engineering Journal of ASCE, 1975, Vol. 101, Issue 3, Pg. 425-435


Document Type: Journal Paper

Abstract: The threat of liability arising as a result of highway defects has commanded more respect for legal guidelines and dictums. The general rule of law is that a highway traveler using the highway is entitled to have that highway maintained in a reasonably safe condition. Warning signs must be placed where there are possible dangerous conditions; safety barriers are necessary where safe travel requires them; and lighting is required where a peculiar condition renders it necessary, traffic signals are generally under the rule of governmental capacity. Several recent cases which illustrate the progression of judicial thought to its present day sophistication in the area are thoroughly examined. Especially pertinent are the comments of the court in Martin versus State Highway Commission on the Federally inspired safety program.

Subject Headings: Highway and road conditions | Traffic safety | Highway and road design | Liability | Traffic capacity | Traffic signals

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