Highway Design Negligence Leads to a Severe Car Accident

This case study explores a car accident caused by an alleged highway design flaw near a Department of Transportation construction site.

ByExpert Institute

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Published on February 6, 2024

Construction workers on highway site

Case Overview

This case revolves around an adult woman who suffered injuries following a car accident. The incident occurred near a construction site managed by the Department of Transportation while the driver merged onto a highway.

Another vehicle cut her off, forcing her to pull onto the shoulder to avoid a collision. Unfortunately, there was a significant drop-off from the highway to the shoulder, causing her vehicle to flip over. It is alleged that this drop-off was larger than standard regulations permit, leading to the plaintiff’s vehicle flipping. An expert in civil engineering was sought to review and provide an opinion on the case.

Questions to the expert and their responses

Q1

Please describe your professional background in civil engineering, specifically highway design and construction.

I am a licensed Professional Engineer (PE), Certified General Contractor (CGC), and state utilities excavation and paving contractor based in Florida with 45 years of experience. My academic credentials include BS and MS degrees in civil engineering, with my graduate degree encompassing extensive coursework in highway design and transportation.

Additionally, I hold a professional land surveying license in a neighboring state. Over three decades of my career, I have served as a city & county engineer for local government in Florida. This includes several years of specialized transportation experience.

Q2

Briefly, what are the standard regulations for designing highway shoulders to ensure drop-off safety?

According to the AASHTO Green Book and accompanying Roadside Design Guide paralleled by FDOT-generated state design manuals and handbooks, there are specific design criteria to maintain it in a reasonably safe condition for use. The MUTCD Chapter 6 also provides regulations for work zones on streets & highways during construction or maintenance projects.

Q3

Have you ever reviewed a similar case? If yes, please elaborate.

Yes, I am currently working on a case involving a fatality in Baldwin County, AL. The case involved a drop-off at the road edge near a bridge that flipped a large truck over into an oncoming vehicle.

About the expert

This expert is a seasoned civil engineer with over four decades of experience, holding both a BS in Civil Engineering Technology and an MS in Civil Engineering. They are a licensed professional engineer and certified general contractor in Florida, with a rich history of roles including city engineer, chief of engineering design, and senior consulting engineer for various organizations. Currently, they offer their expertise as a consultant engineer at a Florida-based firm, maintaining active membership in several professional bodies such as the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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