When an Outdated Design Finally Needs to be Put to Bed:
The Government’s “State of the Art” Defense in Road Design Cases

IV. Strategies for Addressing the “State of the Art” Defense
B. Policy Announcements by MHTC

In addition to guidelines, plaintiff’s counsel can also look to AASHTO to find out the policies of MHTC. In 2008, AASHTO started a program focused on preventing lane departure accidents.56 In the booklet discussing lane departures, then Director of the Missouri Department of Transportation Pete Rahn stated “Missouri has not solved the problem of highway fatalities, but we are taking major steps and producing tremendous results in driving down the number of people dying on our roadways.”57 Right next to Mr. Rahn’s quote is a box titled “Missouri’s System Wide Safety Solutions” listing the following seven policies MHTC had adopted to curb roadway departure accidents:

  1. Requiring a minimum four-foot paved shoulder on major roads
  2. Providing edge line and centerline rumble stripes for all major roads, as well as for minor roads with a history of crashes;
  3. Using six-inch stripes for all edge line and multilane skips on all major roads;
  4. Using curve speed plaques for every curve/turn sign to indicate appropriate speeds;
  5. Providing guardrail and median guard cable delineation on major roads;
  6. Installing emergency reference markers every 0.2 miles on Interstates; and
  7. Upgrading signs for better visibility

Much like the system wide “clear cutting” policy MHTC had adopted in Martin, the “System Wide Safety Solutions” described above shows MHTC had a policy implemented across the state to modify highways to improve the design and better protect motorist. Plaintiff’s counsel can turn to this or other statewide policies to show MHTC has abandoned the “state of the art” defense. These policies can also be used to help sketch a discovery plan.

56 AASHTO, Driving Down Lane Departures, (2008), available athttp://downloads.transportation.org/PLD-1.pdf57 Id.


Previous Page
A. Finding the right standard
Next Page
C. Discovery Plan

Call 816-931-0048 NOW, For Your Free Personal Consultation!