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Ethics in the Transportation Profession

Date published: Jul 07, 2006

Survey consists of responses from 66 randomly selected transportation engineers regarding various ethical situations adapted from actual case studies in Opinions of the Board of Ethical Review, published by the National Society of Professional Engineers.  Topics/questions include:

Situation 1: Transportation Professional A is the CEO of an international transportation consulting firm that recently began using an off-shore company to perform certain transportation consulting-related services for the firm. In its agreement with the off-shore company, there are no provisions regarding confidentiality of client information. Transportation Professional A does not inform clients about using the off-shore company to perform the transportation consulting-related services.

Situation 2: Transportation Professional A, the president of a national technical society, is invited to address a university gathering. He notes that transportation professionals in his discipline of practice, as well as in certain other disciplines of transportation are “paid to think” while transportation professionals in a newer discipline of transportation are “paid not to think.”  Transportation Professional B, who practices in the newer discipline, tries to take the edge off of Transportation Professional A’s comments before the members of the audience. Following the presentation, Transportation Professional B sends a letter to Transportation Professional A that criticizes him for his comments, copying many leaders within the transportation profession, and requests that Transportation Professional A apologize for his comments.

Situation 3: Transportation Professional A is an executive of a consulting firm and occasionally receives invitations from transportation software vendors to attend multi-day seminars at resort locations. Transportation Professional A receives an invitation from Vendor X regarding a seminar at a ski resort location and is unable to attend the event due to a scheduling conflict. After conferring with the consulting firm’s Director of Human Resources, Transportation Professional A agrees to establish a “raffle”, sell tickets to all company employees, and conduct a “drawing” for the seminar with the money from the sale of the tickets contributed to a local charity.

Situation 4, Case a: Traffic Engineer A is licensed in States B, C, and D. Traffic Engineer A participates in a business meeting in State E and hands out a business card indicating that he is a P.E. The business card lists Traffic Engineer A’s name, phone, fax, and e-mail address but does not list a mailing address, nor does it identify the states in which Traffic Engineer A is licensed.

Situation 4, Case b: Traffic Engineer A is licensed in States B, C and D. Engineer A is invited to a business meeting in State E and hands out a business card indicating that he is a P.E. The business card indicates that Traffic Engineer A is licensed in States B, C and D and lists Traffic Engineer A’s mailing address, etc. in State E.

Situation 5:  Transportation Professional A is employed by Company X and as part of her job, she organizes continuing education seminars (i.e., contacting speakers, making meeting arrangements, etc.) for Company X. Company Y, a company that competes for business with Company X, is aware of Transportation Professional A's track record in organizing effective and well received continuing education seminars and requests that Transportation Professional A organize a continuing education seminar for Company Y's transportation professionals, whereby Company Y would pay Transportation Professional A for such services. Transportation Professional A agrees to provide the services to Company Y. Transportation Professional A tells her supervisor about establishing the continuing education business but does not mention that the services will be provided to Company Y, a competitor of Company X. Her employer, Company X, does not object.

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