Landmark cases handed down in the past few months by two supreme courts are presented. Both decisions involved traffic control devices and the adequacy of the warning provided to drivers was the primary question raised in charges of negligence by the plaintiffs. The high court decision in Rhode Island goes beyond the traffic court devices and raised questions about what responsibility the state highway official has to the individual motorist. The decision literally interpreted, suggests that no such responsibility exists in practical terms. The Rhode Island court ruled that "in absence of circumstances giving rise to a special duty owed to the road users concerned by the state, there is no basis for state liability." The majority opinion in the New Jersey case recommended that the State legislature look at the circumstances that contributed to the tragic deaths in the case in point. They expressed the hope that the plight of the claimants will serve as an impetus for corrective action on the part of the legislature or the department of transportation itself. It is noted that a State's immunity can be seriously eroded when the courts and legislatures must consider circumstances which lead to tragedies such as the one discussed in New Jersey. State road agencies cannot take refuge in decisions which can be easily altered. The New Jersey opinion could be the majority opinion in the future.

  • Availability:
  • Corporate Authors:

    TranSafety Incorporated

    2020 K Street, NW, Suite 350
    Washington, DC  United States  20006
  • Authors:
    • Anderson, R W G
  • Publication Date: 1985-10

Media Info

  • Pagination: 2 p.
  • Serial:
    • Volume: 3
    • Issue Number: 10
    • Publisher: TranSafety, Incorporated
    • ISSN: 0884-612X

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00451985
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 31 1986 12:00AM