The Drop-Off

Scott McMackin, P.E., Civil Engineer
Case Summary: A man operating his motorcycle entered a New Jersey interstate highway. The particular portion of the interstate was under construction, with the left and center lanes having been recently milled and overlaid. The motorcycle operator was traveling in the right lane, which was already milled and awaiting to be repaved. Upon attempting to change lanes, the driver lost control of his motorcycle and crashed, resulting in his death. Continue reading “The Drop-Off”

Pennsylvania State Law: Stopped Emergency Vehicles – Move Over or Slow Your Roll

Trucking and Transportation Expert

Timothy P. Reilly, P.E., Civil Engineer
Most motorists will have seen these signs on Pennsylvania roads and are familiar with their duty to move into an adjacent lane to give more room to emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road. This helps to protect emergency service responders in a vulnerable position along an active highway and reduces the risk for subsequent collisions with emergency vehicles or the vehicles to which they are responding. As noted in the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, Emergency Service Responders include police officers; firefighters; EMS and ambulance personnel; towing and recovery workers; and highway maintenance and construction personnel. Continue reading “Pennsylvania State Law: Stopped Emergency Vehicles – Move Over or Slow Your Roll”

Flying Cars on New Hampshire Roads?

Flying Car

Timothy P. Reilly, P.E., Civil Engineer
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu recently signed HB1182, which establishes a commission to study on-road usage of non-traditional motor vehicles, including flying cars. An example of these “cars” could be the PAL-V Liberty, a Dutch concept vehicle that could fly into an airport and then drive off to its final destination on local roadways. New Hampshire could become the first state in the nation to allow such an operation. Continue reading “Flying Cars on New Hampshire Roads?”

Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement in Pennsylvania

Road Work

Timothy P. Reilly, P.E., Collision Reconstruction / Civil Engineer
Pennsylvania officials have recently announced a new Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement pilot program and the vehicle-mounted camera and radar devices are already operational in several work zones across the state. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, and Pennsylvania State Police are partnering in the program to reduce speeding in work zones to improve safety for workers and drivers.
The cameras will automatically capture a picture of the license plate when the radar detects a vehicle travelling 11 miles or greater over the speed limit in an active work zone. Violation notices will be then sent via mail according to the vehicle’s registration address. For the first offense, the owner of the vehicle will simply receive a warning. The penalty for the second offense is a $75.00 fine. Subsequent penalties will be $150.00 fines. Work zones utilizing these vehicles will have signs warning drivers and there will be a website where drivers can track the location of these vehicles. Continue reading “Automated Work Zone Speed Enforcement in Pennsylvania”

Seeing Yellow


Johann F. Szautner, PE, Civil Engineer ::::
We all know the meaning of “seeing red”, often associated with a state of heightened emotion when the blood pressure rises, and we become angry; like the bull when the matador teases him with a red cape to charge to his demise. However, if you are in anyway involved with analyzing personal injury accidents happening on roadways, on the grounds of facilities, institutions, or shopping centers, then you may get irritated by seeing yellow, the universal color of caution warnings, because of its counterproductive overuse negating its effect in situations where such warning is warranted.
Case synopsis: On a sunny summer day, the plaintiff, a shopper at a local supermarket, walked towards the store’s entrance. Access is by means of a ramp leading from the parking lot pavement to the sidewalk and front doors. The ramp configuration facilitates easy ingress and egress with shopping carts, and for people with disabilities (ADA). The ramp has a generous width of 16 feet between the flared end sections. Nevertheless, this shopper decided to step up on the sidewalk over the sloped curb section at the end of the ramp, but did not lift the right foot sufficiently, and tripped over the curb, landing on the concrete sidewalk, and sustaining multiple injuries. The complaint alleged that the shopper did not see the height of the curb, because it was not painted yellow. Continue reading “Seeing Yellow”

The Problem with “Fog”


Johann F. Szautner, PE, Civil Engineer ::::
If your work involves commercial kitchens, plumbing, or municipal code enforcement, you may know that fog can have a different meaning from what one may expect. It is the acronym for “Fats, Oils and Grease,” components of wastewater which must be removed before allowing it to enter the municipal collection system, to avoid clogging of pipes. FOG removal is achieved by installing a grease interceptor, commonly referred to as a grease trap. After the kitchen wastewater enters the trap, it cools down immediately, which solidifies the FOGs and floats them on the water surface, while food particles sink to the bottom, leaving a layer of clean water in the middle, which can be safely discharged into the municipal sewer system.
Case synopsis: The plaintiff, a custodial worker, entered the basement beneath an institutional kitchen to retrieve supplies kept there. As he walked around a corridor corner, he slipped and fell on a spill of greasy water, sustaining severe injuries. Defendants included the food service company, which was responsible to maintain the kitchen including the sinks and floor, the company maintaining the trap, and the institution owning the facility, including the kitchen. Continue reading “The Problem with “Fog””

The Perils of Winter


Johann F. Szautner, PE, Civil Engineer ::::
The Problem: Winter in the Northeast, including Pennsylvania, can be a season of blizzards, ice storms, frozen water pipes, floods, and fallen trees. While we are rightfully concerned about these weather-related maladies, I am more concerned about slipping and falling on ice. If it happens to you and you are young, you may have injured only your pride or may be limping into spring.
But if you are 65 and older, unfortunately, you likely will end up with broken limbs, a broken hip, and/or a traumatic brain injury. The primary cause of injury for Americans 65 and older is falling on a hard surface, including ice. Continue reading “The Perils of Winter”

The Driver Pedestrian Safety Riddle

Parking Lot Safety

Johann F. Szautner, P.E., Civil Engineer ::::
Case Summary: On a late winter afternoon, an elderly couple drove to the shopping center. The husband stopped the car at the sidewalk in front of the store the wife wanted to visit. He left his wife off to do her shopping and told her he would pick her up as soon as he would see her leaving the store. After a short waiting time, he saw her exiting the store and began driving towards the sidewalk. Instead of waiting for him, she stepped off the sidewalk, took 2 – 3 steps, and was struck by an oncoming car. She succumbed to her injuries the following day. According to one eyewitness account, it was dusk at the time of the accident and the parking lot lights were not on. Another eyewitness testified that the car was speeding.
Continue reading “The Driver Pedestrian Safety Riddle”