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Articles - November, 1997

November 1, 1997
Survey Investigates the Relationships Among Design Speeds, Operating Speeds, and Posted Speed Limits

Since the 1930's, design speed has been a primary factor in selecting the vertical and horizontal alignments of U.S. roadways. Since about the same time, posted speed limits have been based on a statistical analysis of individual vehicular speeds observed on the roadway. The speed limit is set at the 85th percentile speed--that is, the speed below which 85 percent of motorists travel. As a result, motorists often travel legally at speeds greater than the roadway's design speed. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) conducted a nationwide study to identify problems with the relationships among design speeds, operating speeds, and posted speed limits and to solicit possible solutions to those problems. Kay Fitzpatrick, Brian Shamburger, and Dan Fambro documented the results in the article summarized here, "Design Speed, Operating Speed, and Posted Speed Survey."


November 1, 1997
City in New York Found Not Liable for Motorist's Fall in Municipal Parking Lot

A woman fell in a municipal parking lot and sued the city of New Rochelle, New York for the lot's uneven surface. The Supreme Court of Westchester County granted the city's request for a summary judgment and dismissal of the suit. On appeal, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, ruled that the parking lot qualified as a highway; therefore, since the city had not received previous notice of the condition, it could not be held liable for the woman's injuries.


November 1, 1997
State of Washington's Recreational Use Immunity Statute Upheld in Pedestrian's Death

A seven-year-old pedestrian died after being struck by a vehicle on a bridge designated as a scenic overlook. When the child's father sued, the Superior Court of Whatcom County granted Washington State's motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1 confirmed that a recreational use immunity statute covered the bridge. The appellate court concluded the dangers of the bridge were obvious rather than latent conditions and did not qualify as exceptions to the statute.


November 1, 1997
The Effect of Decreases in Vehicle Weight on Injury Crash Rates by Ellen Hertz, Ph.D.

This is a reprint of a January 1997 "Research Note" from the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It summarizes Ellen Hertz' research report entitled "The Effect of Decreases in Vehicle Weight on Injury Crash Rates." NHTSA's National Center for Statistics and Analysis recently completed an analysis to estimate the effect of a one hundred (100) pound reduction in the average weight of passenger vehicles on the per crash rates of incapacitating injury to drivers. In the analysis described here, three "scenarios" were considered: (1) the effect of a hypothetical 100 pound reduction on light trucks and vans (LTVs), with the weight of passenger cars (PCS) unchanged; (2) the effect of a hypothetical 100 pound reduction on PCS, with the weight of LTVs unchanged; and (3) the effect of a hypothetical 100 pound reduction on all passenger vehicles.


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