Report on State Liability and RWIS

Weather or Not? Report on State Liability and Road Weather Information

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On May 12, 2010, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) released the report Weather or Not? State Liability and Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS), in collaboration with the Federal Highway Administration’s Road Weather Management Program.

Download executive summary (14 pages)

Download full report (138 pages)

Download individual appendices:

Appendix A: Survey Questionnaires (5 pages)
Appendix B: Citations Relating to State Sovereign Immunity and Tort Liability (10 pages)
Appendix C: Weather Immunity Statutes (4 pages)
Appendix D: Online Disclaimers and Road Weather Information on State DOT Web Sites (38 pages) 


State Liability and Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS)

Road weather information systems are advanced technologies that give state transportation departments unprecedented access to detailed, timely, roadway-relevant weather information such as whether roads and bridges are becoming icy, whether rain is reaching the ground, or whether dust that is stirred up on a windy day is affecting visibility for motorists. 

Transportation agencies use this information to support decisions that affect public safety, mobility and productivity, such as when roads should be closed or plowed or when to warn the public of adverse weather conditions.

By providing up-to-date, roadway-relevant information, road weather information systems help keep roads safe and thus reduce a state transportation department’s exposure to certain liabilities. As with any innovation, however, these technologies also have raised new liability concerns that must be addressed with care. Taking actions to address these concerns can not only reduce a state’s exposure to li­ability, but also maximize the benefits of these systems for the traveling public and the agencies that manage the nation’s roadways.  


The NCSL Report: Weather or Not?

The detailed report Weather or Not? State Liability and Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS) helps state legislators and departments of transportation understand liability concerns related to the use of road weather information systems and provides a menu of strategic options for addressing those concerns, illustrated by real-life examples from the states. 

Besides addressing road weather information, the report also explores broader issues of liability and sovereign immunity for state governmental entities; this information can be of general use to state decision makers. Relevant statutes and legal statements for all 50 states and the District of Columbia are included.  


This report was produced in collaboration with:



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