Cover Image

Not for Sale

View/Hide Left Panel
Click for next page ( 24

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement

Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 23
23 The issue of the discretionary function exemption a public entity decides to provide traffic control devices, and traffic control devices is relevant to potential claims there is a duty to maintain them in good working or- against public entities for bikeway accidents. In der.271 Nevertheless, at least one case was located in Bjorkquist v. City of Robbinsdale,263 a bicyclist, who was which the court held that a municipality is not liable struck by an automobile in an intersection, claimed that even for the failure to maintain a traffic light.272 If there the timing of the clearance interval between a change of is no showing of a malfunction prior to the accident, a traffic lights from red to green was unduly brief and public entity may not be held liable because of the ab- that the improper timing of the light change was the sence of any showing of actual or constructive notice.273 proximate cause of the accident.264 The plaintiff asserted After receipt of notice of a malfunction, a public entity that the timing of the change of the lights was a "minis- has a reasonable time to take corrective action.274 terial" decision made at the operational level and, therefore, was not immune from judicial review. The 265 C. Stop Signs and Speed Limit Signs court noted that there was no history of accidents or of The presence or lack thereof of STOP signs or speed "unusually heavy bicycle traffic at the intersection."266 limit signs is pertinent to potential accidents on bike- The court held that "[t]here is no obligation to time ways. It has been held that the decision whether to the lights in a particular way. Rather, that decision is erect a STOP sign is a discretionary decision and im- 267 arrived at after weighing competing interests." With- mune from judicial review under the discretionary func- out explicitly saying so, the court rejected the plaintiff's tion exemption in a state tort claims act.275 In Gonzales contention that "the lights at such intersections [as v. Hollins,276 the question was whether the city's action these] should be timed in reference to bicycles."268 The in changing a traffic control device to a static STOP decision regarding the length of the clearance interval sign was a discretionary activity within the meaning of of the lights was part of the planning process and as such was a discretionary decision protected by the dis- 269 cretionary function exemption. 271 Montgomery County v. Voorhees, 86 Md. App. 294, 303, As discussed elsewhere, however, it appears that in 586 A.2d 769, 774 (Md. Ct. App. 1991) (alleged faulty traffic most jurisdictions a public entity may not be immune light); Forest v. State, 493 So. 2d 563 (La. 1986) (absence of from liability if it has failed to respond to a known dan- amber flashing lights contributed to a finding of liability), reh'g gerous condition.270 Moreover, it has been held that after denied (Oct. 9, 1986); Robinson v. State, Dep't of Transp., 465 So. 2d 1301 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985), rev. denied, 476 So. 2d 673 263 (1985); and Stephen v. Denver, 659 P.2d 666 (Colo. 1983). See 352 N.W.2d 817 (Minn. Ct. App. 1984). In Bjorkquist the also Annotation, Liability of Highway Authorities Arising Out court noted that "[t]ort immunity for municipalities was abol- of Motor Vehicle Accident Allegedly Caused by Failure to Erect ished by statute in 1963 subject to [a] few exceptions." Id. at or Properly Maintain Traffic Control Device at Intersection, 34 818. See also Zank v. Larson, 552 N.W.2d 719 (Minn. 1996) A.L.R. 3d 1008, 1015 ("The strongest cases for recovery have (holding that the city's determination as to the timing of traffic been those in which the highway authority failed within a rea- control signals was discretionary). sonable time to replace a traffic sign which had been removed 264 Id., 352 N.W.2d at 818. The plaintiff conceded that the by unauthorized persons, to re-erect or repair a sign which had decision whether to install a traffic control device at an inter- fallen down or had been knocked down or bent over, or to re- section was discretionary in nature and was exempt from li- place a burned out bulb in an electric traffic signal."). ability under the discretionary function exception of the Min- 272 Radosevich v. County Comm'rs of Whatcom County, 3 nesota Tort Claims Act. Wash. App. 602, 476 P.2d 705 (Wash. Ct. App. 1970). 265 Id. 273 Zuniga v. Metro. Dade County, 504 So. 2d 491, 492 (Fla. 266 Id. at 819. 3d DCA 1987) (holding that there was no showing of actual or 267 Id. constructive notice of a malfunction of a traffic control signal). 268 274 Id. at 818. City of Atlanta v. Landmark Envtl. Indus., 272 Ga. App. 269 Id. (citing MINN. STAT. 466.03(6) (1982)). 732, 733, 613 S.E.2d 131, 135 (Ga. Ct. App. 2005) (citing Bow- 270 Nawrocki v. Macomb County Road Comm'n, 463 Mich. man v. Gunnells, 243 Ga. 809, 256 S.E.2d 782 (1979), on re- 143, at 180, 615 N.W.2d 702 at 721 (holding that the state or mand, 151 Ga. App. 229, 259 S.E.2d 211 (1979) (per curiam) county road commissions have no duty to install, maintain, (stating that there was nothing "in the record to show any like repair, or improve traffic control devices, including traffic malfunction before the accident [and] there [was] no genuine signs, and that their liability is limited to the repair of danger- issue of material fact as to the County's actual or constructive ous or defective conditions within the actual roadway); Starr v. notice")). 275 Veneziano, 560 Pa. 650, 659, 747 A.2d 867, 873 (2000) (stating Tell City v. Noble, 489 N.E.2d 958 (Ind. App. 1st Dist. that no evidence was presented that a traffic control device 1986) (holding that the decision of the city not to install a would have prevented the accident); Harkness v. Hall, 684 STOP sign or other form of traffic control at an intersection N.E.2d 1156, 1160 (Ind. App. 4th Dist. 1997) (holding that was discretionary and immune from judicial review under the there is a duty to maintain signs or signals in good working Indiana Tort Claims Act). 276 order); and Bendas v. Township of White Deer, 531 Pa. 180, 386 N.W.2d 842 (Minn. App. 1986). See Nguyen v. 185, 611 A.2d 1184, 1187 (Pa. 1992) (holding that the Com- Nguyen, 565 N.W.2d 721, 723 (Minn. Ct. App. 1997) ("Discre- monwealth's duty to make highways reasonably safe included tionary immunity applies in this case because the challenged erecting traffic control devices or otherwise correcting danger- conduct, the County's decision to delay the intersection im- ous conditions). provements, occurred at the planning level.").