Archives of Personal Papers ex libris Ludwig Benner, Jr.
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By Ludwig Benner, Jr. and Jeffrey Chapman 


Current regulation assessment practices are a mess and awash in controversy. A national safety issue of major importance is the present inability of reasonable, dedicated, conscientious and informed individuals to find a convincing and harmonious way to resolve controversies about safety regulations, such as the "stop" requirement for certain vehicles at grade crossings. Far too much safety regulation is driven by seat of the pants opinions, without clearly defined safety performance goals. Serious ethical considerations are also involved. 

The purpose of this paper is to examine this issue, reasons it exists, and possible actions to resolve it. A proposed change in a Federal rail-highway grade crossing regulation, a study to assess the proposed change, and another study assessing the assessment study are used to illustrate the problems and alternative approaches available now. Continuing existence of this issue is attributed to four interacting failures. Technical and managerial actions and insights into alternatives that could bring about improved safety regulation assessment capabilities and safety performance are discussed. 

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