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Status Report, Vol. 38, No. 8 | August 26, 2003 Subscribe

In other highway safety news …

Judge rules on photo enforcement

Automated photo enforcement has come under legal attack in several jurisdictions. In all cases the constitutionality of this approach has been upheld (see Status Report special issue: automated enforcement, May 4, 2002). The latest case involves two drivers who sued the District of Columbia alleging various constitutional problems, some of which had been addressed in other cases around the country. As in those cases, the D.C. court found no constitutional problems. The judge wrote, "The fact that there are a high number of persons photographed running the traffic signals or operating at excessive speeds is an example of the magnitude of the problem facing city officials."

More and more roundabouts

At least 100 new roundabouts are being built or planned across the United States. Institute research indicates that this approach to traffic management can reduce injury crashes by 80 percent and significantly reduce traffic delays, compared with intersections with stop signs or signals (see "Roundabouts reduce traffic backups and crashes, too," July 28, 2001). The Federal Highway Administration published an informational guide for new roundabout construction in 2000, and now Colorado, Maryland, and Washington are at the forefront of construction. Maryland's Highway Administration has built 45 roundabouts since 1993, with 3 or 4 more slated and 15 to 20 in the planning stages. Since 1997, state officials in Washington have built 39 roundabouts, and the number is expected to double within 5 years.

Agency rejects younger truckers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has turned down a petition from the Truckload Carriers Association for a pilot program that would have allowed drivers 18-20 years old to operate commercial vehicles in interstate commerce. The Institute strongly opposed this idea, pointing to research that "unequivocally shows young truck drivers have markedly higher crash risks" (see "Don't permit interstate truck drivers younger than 21," Nov. 15, 2001). More than 90 percent of others who commented on the proposed program also opposed it. In rejecting the petition, the federal agency said it "does not have sufficient information at this time to make a determination that the safety measures in the pilot program would achieve a level of safety at least equal to that provided by complying with the minimum 21-year age requirement."

OSHA won't require belt use on the job

For the second time, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has rejected an Institute petition to require safety belt use in motor vehicles used on the job. The more recent denial came in response to an Institute appeal after OSHA denied its original October 2002 petition (see "OSHA rejects Institute petition on belt use by private sector workers," Jan. 11, 2003). OSHA itself proposed a similar requirement in 1990, but the agency subsequently failed to finalize the proposal. Motor vehicle injuries are the leading cause of work-related death.

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