Why Pedestrian-Friendly Street Design is Not Negligent
44 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2008
In recent decades, American state and local highway officials have built wide streets and roads designed primarily to accommodate high-speed automobile traffic. However, such high-speed streets are more dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists than streets with slower traffic, and thus fail to adequately accommodate nondrivers. Government officials design streets for high-speed traffic partially because of their fear of tort liability. An influential street engineering manual, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' Green Book, has generally favored the construction of such high-speed streets, and transportation planners fear that if they fail to follow the Green Book's recommendations, they are more likely to be held negligent if a speeding driver is injured on a street designed for relatively slow traffic. This article argues that such fears are no longer well-founded, for two reasons. First, American tort law gives transportation planners ample discretion to consider the interests of nondrivers. Second, the Green Book itself has become more sensitive to those interests in recent years.
Keywords: pedestrian, street, immunity, aashto, green book, sprawl
JEL Classification: R14, R41, R52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation