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38 CHAPTER FIVE CONCLUSIONS Roadside litter and litter collection are significant issues for The literature review conducted for this synthesis indicates road authorities in the United States and Canada. In addi- that the effectiveness of individual litter prevention strategies is tion to the staggering cost of roadside litter collection, litter largely undetermined. The literature is replete with research on itself has been linked to motor vehicle collisions, injuries the effects of messaging, trash can design and placement, and to maintenance workers and wildlife, roadside bush fires, penalties on litter reduction. However, the majority of these stud- and the release of toxic substances into the environment. ies are not measures of success as it applies to roadside litter. It is Unproven impacts of roadside litter include increased preva- uncertain whether the results from a cafeteria or a campground lence of animalvehicle collisions resulting from food dis- are directly transferable to a highway roadside. Still, some of pro- carded at the roadside and loss of tourism owing to a littered grams that have been studied have been found to be effective. environment. Specifically, facilities with Adopt-a-Highway (AAH) programs have 13% to 31% less litter than similar non-AAH facilities, and One of the primary tenets in litter prevention is that litter litter collection before roadside mowing is an effective method of begets litter. Research has shown repeatedly that keeping an reducing visible litter. Other measures such as passing container area litter-free will greatly reduce the incidence of new litter. deposit laws and establishing local Keep America Beautiful This suggests that prevention and collection efforts need to affiliates have documented successes but are perhaps outside of be maintained or bolstered. the mandate of the department of transportation (DOT). FIGURE 16 Example of promotional material showing a littered environment (Source: Tennessee DOT).
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39 FIGURE 17 Example of promotional material showing a clean roadside (Source: Utah DOT). Research also purports that advertising and education Finally, the case studies strongly suggest that advertising material reflect a social norm that littering is not common- campaigns (for education and encouragement) be compa- place (i.e., visual messages would show a clean environment as rable to traditional private sector commercial advertising. It opposed to a littered environment). Displaying a littered envi- is important that slogans and other advertising material be ronment in advertisements and promotional material lessens attention-grabbing and memorable, delivering a straightfor- the effect of the message, yet this is a common mistake made ward, unapologetic message concerning the unacceptability in roadside litter prevention efforts (see Figures 16 and 17 for of roadside littering. littered and clean roadside environments, respectively). Roadside litter prevention efforts are hampered, however, The enforcement community has a promising opportunity because nationally the attempts to address the roadside lit- with closed circuit television to monitor high litter roadsides ter problem are largely fragmented and underresearched. and reduce litter. Privacy issues that arise would be similar Existing efforts lack the synergy that might be created by to those already considered by speed cameras and red light a national coordination of roadside litter prevention efforts. cameras that have been deployed in some states. The individual states are in various stages of program devel- opment, using different organizational structures and strate- The survey of state DOTs reveals that the cost of road- gies. In some cases, the DOT is the lead agency; in others, side litter collection and disposal is about $430 to $505 per the DOT is a supporting agency to other state departments. centerline-mile. Furthermore, although a variety of educa- The successes of the various programs in reducing roadside tion programs and encouragement strategies are available litter have been documented only by some of the well-devel- for roadside litter prevention, no distinct trends or patterns oped state programs. have emerged in the use of these strategies. The opposite is true for enforcement and litter collection for which the fol- This is not to say that roadside litter prevention efforts lowing trends are apparent: have not enjoyed some success. The findings from the Insti- tute for Applied Research demonstrate a drop in overall lit- · Penalties for roadside littering include monetary fines ter rates over time, which may indicate that litter prevention and community service for offenders. programs in the United States are working. Furthermore, the · Enforcement is provided by police and state officials. shift from intentional to accidental litter is significant, and is · In addition to state maintenance personnel (or con- a strong indicator that campaign efforts might now be better tractors), AAH, prison work crews, and community directed toward accidental litter prevention efforts. On that service programs are widely used roadside litter col- note, the litter prevention community has adopted the term lection strategies. "accidental litter" to describe litter that was not deliberately or knowingly deposited on a road. The term "accidental" may The surveyed agencies provided a variety of opinions on imply that this litter is random and not culpable. It may be an key elements for a successful antilitter program, including effective strategy to use the term "negligent litter" because partnering with others, funding, and good communications. willful acts, such as securing cargo, and being more diligent The case studies clearly support the need for a multistake- about the potential for litter may further reduce litter. holder approach that uses solid research on the who, what, when, where, and why of roadside littering to select and Overall, however, quality effectiveness evaluations con- implement multiple, targeted antilitter strategies. Further- cerning roadside litter are rare, and road authorities and more, it seems less important who leads the multistake- government agencies may be hesitant to invest in litter holder effort as long as a lead agency champions the cause. programs that have not been proven effective. Only a few
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40 roadside litter prevention programs produce evaluations. One of the primary obstacles in developing effective litter Moreover, currently documented evaluations typically use prevention campaigns, and in attracting funding for these the frequency or density of visible roadside litter as the sole programs, is the lack of reliable data on the roadside litter measure of success. Other performance measures could problem. The state survey clearly demonstrates that state be considered, such as injuries to workers and volunteers, DOTs do not have a consistent metric for roadside litter motor vehicle crashes, roadside fires, and so on. Standard collection (e.g., weight, volume, and so on). The costs and data collection methods and templates will allow state and impacts of roadside litter need to be better documented and municipal road authorities to pool collected data and obtain widely publicized. The cost of roadside litter and litter col- a better understanding of causative factors in roadside litter lection in the United States is staggering and likely would be and appropriate target audiences for education and enforce- surprising to the general public and decision makers. ment programs.