The National Academies

NCHRP 20-06/Topic 22-04 [Completed]

Summary of Federal Law Restricting Use of Highway Safety Data in Tort Litigation
[ NCHRP 20-06 (Legal Problems Arising out of Highway Programs) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $63,000
Research Agency: Parker Corporate Enterprises, Ltd
Effective Date: 8/4/2015
Completion Date: 9/4/2016
Comments: Completed.

In 1987, Congress enacted a law, 23 U.S.C. § 409, prohibiting the use, in tort litigation, of highway safety data created for purposes related to safety improvements on roads qualifying for federal safety improvement funding. The law has subsequently been amended to clarify and/or expand its scope, and generated a large amount of federal and state case law interpreting its provisions.

After 27 years, state and local transportation agencies would be aided by a summary of this law, its application, and the large body of interpretative decisions. The summary should include:

The origin of the law reason, the reason for its enactment, and its relationship to other similar statutes such as 23 USC § 402(k) (1).
Explanation of the provisions of the law, particularly the safety data governed by the law.
The purpose and effect of amendments since 1987.
The development of case law interpreting and applying the law.
Explanation of the 2003 Supreme Court decision, Guillen v. Pierce County, upholding the constitutionality of the law, and the effect of Guillen on later caselaw.
Current major interpretation and application issues involving the law, including how it is affected by public records law, or how it affects public records law.

STATUS: Completed; Published as Legal Research Digest 72: Summary of Federal Law Restricting Use of Highway Safety Data in Tort Litigation

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