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4 CHAPTER one INTRODUCTION BACKGROUND addition, in 2006, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Great Britain) (2007) dealt with 11,589 The word "litter" entered the mainstream in the 1950s by litter-related incidents. Iowa surveyed nearly 3,000 Adopt-A- means of the American Public Works Association and is Highway (AAH) volunteers and DOT maintenance garage generally defined as misplaced solid waste, although differ- employees to identify the potential safety hazards posed by ent jurisdictions have their own definitions. Regardless of debris and features along the roadside (Iowa Department of the definition used, litter has been a persistent problem in the Transportation 2000). Of the 1,180 respondents, 26 reported United States since at least 1953 when Keep America Beau- past injuries to themselves or to someone in their group. The tiful (KAB) was formed with a mandate of litter prevention. most serious injuries reported were a sprain, a cut requiring As the number of vehicle-miles of travel increases, so too stitches, and a snake bite. The most common injuries were does the potential for roadside litter. At present, roadside lit- small cuts, scratches, and rashes. ter appears to be omnipresent. Additionally, toxic litter from clandestine and portable The impacts of roadside litter and litter collection are crystal methamphetamine laboratories is an emergent con- staggering. In the mid-1990s, the estimated cost of collect- cern for road authorities. Operators of these facilities fre- ing roadside litter exceeded $130 million per year for state quently discard used laboratory equipment and paraphernalia highways alone (Andres and Andres 1995). An earlier study along the roadside, and the extremely toxic materials used (FHWA 1974) estimated that $500 million is spent annually to make the illegal drug are a threat to the environment, as by all levels of government on the collection of roadside litter well as a hazard for maintenance personnel and volunteers. from the 3.79 million miles of highways in the United States. To date, a limited number of people have been injured after More recently, the Georgia Department of Transportation coming across discarded materials from such laboratories (DOT) reported collecting about 2 million bags of litter from ("Meth-Lab Litter Poses Hazard . . ." 2006). their Interstate system each year (Haines 2006). This trans- lates to $14 million on litter collection in 2006, with costs Finally, roadside litter may be a determinant of crime increasing at a rate of 20% per year. rates in urban areas. In a study concerning the crime rate at bus stops in downtown Los Angeles and adjoining neighbor- A recent survey in Utah determined that almost 80% of hoods, Liggett et al. (2001) found that litter was positively drivers have encountered road debris causing them to swerve correlated with incidence of crime. This research supports from their intended path, 8% of drivers have been involved the "broken windows" theory, which posits that if small in an accident caused by road debris, and 47% of drivers antisocial issues (e.g., litter) are not addressed, then larger have had their vehicles damaged by road debris (Dan Jones antisocial issues will follow (e.g., increased crime) because & Associates 2008). Forbes (2003) estimated that vehicle- the existing smaller issues convey a message that antisocial related road debris (i.e., litter on the road) is conservatively behavior is tolerated (Kelling and Coles 1996). responsible for 80 to 90 fatalities and 25,000 crashes on North American roads each year. Perhaps the most tragic incident The impacts of roadside litter are serious but not always involving roadside litter occurred in the Mont Blanc Tunnel obvious. Apart from the previously noted impacts of road- connecting France and Italy through the Alps. A 1999 fire side litter and litter collection, the following impacts have in the tunnel resulted in 39 deaths and more than $1 billion not been studied: loss of tourism owing to littered roadsides, in losses to the region (Leistikow et al. 2000). The cause of and the increased potential for vehicleanimal collisions the fire was reported to be a discarded cigarette that entered resulting from animals attracted to discarded food at the the engine compartment of a truck and lit the paper air filter roadside. on fire. The tunnel was closed for repairs and upgrading for 3 years. Roadside litter is a serious problem in North America, and addressing the problem is a significant social cost. DOT Australian data from 20052006 indicated that 540 bush staff has developed a multitude of enforcement, public edu- fires were caused by discarded cigarettes (FESA 2006). In cation, and awareness strategies to address the growing