Law and Roadside Hazards,
“Where such hazards exist, the
duty to maintain the roads in
a safe condition means much
more than merely an obliga-
tion to preserve the roads in
their original condition. It in-
cludes the duty to make the
In Massachusetts and
throughout the United States,
unsafe roadway conditions ex-
ist due to the placement of util-
ity poles within what should be
an unobstructed roadside clear
zone. Bodily injury and property damage
suffered by people traveling the public
roads is in part caused by the presence of
the poles, yet under current practices the
liability for compensation rests with the
driver and his or her insurer. These pub-
lic nuisances exist due to negligence on
the part of the locality and the utility in
taking reasonable care, and some liability
should be assumed by them for the result.
Legislative and regulatory action is in
order to reconcile the current practices of
the utility companies and municipalities
with the standard of care as articulated
by AASHTO and as found by the courts.
Until the legal realities of the current
landscape catch up with the proper allo-
cation of risk, liability, and cost, drivers
and consumers will be saddled with the
inappropriate burden of paying higher
automobile insurance premiums. These
premiums should be reduced to reflect
the liability of utilities and
municipalities and should not
be shouldered by insurance
Ned Baldwin is a forensic
ATTEND THE 2015 INSIGHTS
engineering, urban planning,
and real estate development
consultant. He holds a mas-
ter’s in Urban Planning from
the University of Virginia and
an MBA from Boston Univer-
sity. He is a project manager
for Integritas LLC, a Boston-
based forensic engineering
and claims analysis consulting firm.
William F. Lyons Jr. is an attorney, a
transportation engineer, and an expert
witness. He holds a Juris Doctor from
Suffolk University Law School, a Master
of Transportation and Urban Systems from
North Dakota State University, a Master
of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army
War College, and a Bachelor of Science in
Electrical Engineering from Norwich Uni-
versity. He is the president of Integritas.
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