Long commute for some this morning when box-truck driver loses ability to read

Truck on Storrow Drive
Truck driver

Roving UHub photographer Raymond wasn't doing much roving around 7:30 this morning thanks to the driver of a box truck who decided those "CARS ONLY" signs only applied to other truck drivers, not him.

Drivers no doubt appreciated his help in motioning them to form a single lane to get around his vehicle, parked in the right lane inbound, just past the Cambridge Street entrance in Allston.

But, wait, it was a Storrow twofer today! Shortly after midnight, Stanley Staco reports, another truck driver suddenly realized he'd made a bad decision, just before the Dartmouth Street overpass westbound.



Free tagging: 


Different backup, same morning

By on

Anyone have any idea what had Chestnut Hill Ave tied up going away from Brighton Center this morning?

It was the worst I've seen it in months. Ended up having to take a different way.

This sort of "traffic event"

By on

This sort of "traffic event" is frequent, right?

I wonder: Do these "CARS ONLY" signs on Storrow Drive meet the traffic sign standards of any jurisdiction?

What do you think the real reasons are for truck drivers missing those signs?

What do you think the real

By on

What do you think the real reasons are for truck drivers missing those signs?

Using civilian GPS/google

Not paying attention.



By on

I'm not persuaded that it's the signs that are the problem. I expect that a high frequency of drivers unfamilar to the area and/or the type of vehicle - and the resulting level of 'oblivious' - is the biggest issue.

That, and the absence of appropriately-sized pinball flippers to knock trucks off the roadway as they pass the signs, that is.

Yeah it's definitely clearly

By on

Yeah it's definitely clearly marked. That's why trucks accidentally get on Storrow Drive constantly.

Yes. Because

By on

stating Low Clearance without indicating what that clearance actually is (which most of the signs on the entrance ramps read) gives a truly clear and concise message to drivers, especially those unfamiliar with the area and/or driving large box trucks - not.

And providing drivers information about restrictions AFTER they've already committed to entering the highway - and may also be more occupied with accelerating so they can merge with the traffic already on Storrow rather than reading signs - sure doesn't help either.

We've discussed that question

By on

We've discussed that question ad nauseum, and no, the signs are not MUTCD standard.

HOWEVER, that does not inherently mean they are worse. In fact, they're arguably more obvious and unquestionably larger and more in your face than MUTCD standard signage would be.

And even elsewhere in places that have fairly strictly stuck to the MUTCD, there are just as many incidents. The difference is that the Storrow clearances are very low, and it's a very busy road, so they're more high profile.

See http://11foot8.com for example.

A black on white sign

By on

with standard text and format (including a proper border and inset) is more likely to get a driver's attention than the yellow on black "homemade" Cars Only signs on Storrow Drive do - despite the fact that the Cars Only signs are designed to hit overheight vehicles. Properly informing the drivers of the roadway's restrictions BEFORE they turn onto the entrance ramp would greatly help as well. By the time drivers are on the ramp, they are likely too distracted by looking for a gap in mainline traffic and accelerating, and probably don't notice the signs (yes, even the Cars Only signs their truck just hit. Ever ride in a box truck, let alone an 18 wheeler? You'd be amazed at the amount of noise generated by the engine, suspension, and the trailer).

Plus, standard signs are actually LESS expensive than some of the ones the MDC/DCR have installed over the years. Not to mention the fact that defense attorneys love non-standard traffic control devices when appealing fines and tickets.

As Swirly and others here love to remind people whenever this discussion comes up, NO solution is going to be 100% idiot proof (as the bridge in Durham NC seems to constantly remind us). However, the fact is that the non-standard signs on Storrow Drive, for all the MDC/DCR's best intentions, are not really working, given how frequently these incidents happen. So, let's try proper signing with proper placement for a change, and see if things improve. Sadly, the DCR is so hung up on making this "parkway" so aesthetically pristine that they apparently have no interest in conforming to established standards that even the City of Boston has (mostly) adopted.

Thanks for you comment, but...

By on

...who the hell is "we?"

And what is this MUTCD?

Im sure you don't mean to come off as presumptuous, but you do, I'm afraid.

At any rate, please explain "we" and MUTCD. Looking forward to it.


By on

Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Promulgated by the Federal Highway Administration, and originally established in 1935, it is the established national standard for the design, fabrication, and implementation of all traffic signs, traffic signals, work zone setups, and the like.

The standards and guidelines contained in the MUTCD, which can be found at http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2009r1r2/pdf_index.htm , are applicable to any street or roadway on which the public has right of access - yes, even mall parking lots. This requirement is reinforced in Massachusetts by Chapter 85, Section 2 of the Massachusetts General Laws.

As for who constitutes "we", sorry I can't answer that question, the reference appears to be to the UHub community in general, as this is hardly the first time such a debate has been raised in this forum.

MUTCD = Manual on Uniform

By on

MUTCD = Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, as roadman said.

We = The Universal Hub community. Probably once a week on average an over height truck makes it onto Storrow, and every time it triggers a cavalcade of people like roadman clamoring about nonstandard signs being to blame, despite the fact that incidents happen just as frequently in situations with more standard signage.

I didn't intend to sound presumptuous at all. In fact, quite the contrary. My apologies if I came across as such.


By on

Because they don't give a wet rat's ass if they screw everybody else, that's why.

In addition to a heavy fine,

By on

In addition to a heavy fine, these truck drivers should be required to reimburse the fare for anyone who missed a flight or train as a result of their stupidity.


By on

Not sure if anyone has posted this before, but 11Foot8's video compilation from a single location in Durham, NC shows that this isn't strictly a Massachusetts problem:

Happened in Charlottesville

Happened in Charlottesville near UVA pretty often too. There was one underpass that sounded an audible alarm if an overheight vehicle was approaching. Still didn't always work.

Years ago, the MDC

By on

installed flashing signs with audible alarms, that were triggered by overheight vehicle detectors, on most of the entrance ramps to Storrow Drive. The audible alarms were disconnected shortly thereafter once the abutters complained about the noise, and the signs themselves (as well as the detection systems) fell into disrepair due to lack of maintenance.

I sure do remember them.

By on

However, I suspect a cowbell would be barely audible in most trucks, and even less discernible to the driver than other normal truck and road noises they hear.

Large speaker near this location

I heard an alarm type noise for the first time coming from a speaker right near this location when I was biking by on Tuesday. No large vehicles and I have no idea how anyone would hear it in a vehicle with windows closed. Such a noisy location.

No real abutters there, Double Tree is about a 100-150 yards from the speaker.

EDIT: Near location of truck in original post.


By on


You've mentioned this story before about abutters getting the overheight alarms turned off. Have any proof?

I was told this story

By on

several years ago by a friend of mine who worked for the Central Services Division of the MDC (now DCR). Given my friend's reputation, and the fact that Central Services are the people who respond to clean up the mess when trucks and buses slam into overpasses on Storrow and Memorial Drives, I have never had any reason to doubt the accuracy of the story - especially given how increasingly "anti-noise" most people in Boston have become over the years.

Now, if you have incontrovertible proof that I'm somehow wrong about all this, please share it with us.

Seen the video posted - never watched until now.

By on

Wow. How the hell is that bridge still standing?

Honestly though, my first thought when seeing one of the trucks hit the bridge whilst the train was passing over it was: Dear God, I hope that one of these big rigs doesn't hit with enough force one day to collapse the bridge and/or derail an oil train. No one needs another Lac Megantic.

Incidentally, if you haven't read the story in the current issue of Yankee Magazine about Lac Megantic ("The Town is Gone"), you should pick up a copy. It is moving in a number of ways.

If you dig around on that

If you dig around on that website, you'll find that the railroad installed an I-beam in front of the bridge, so trucks now hit that instead of the bridge itself.

A while back I witnessed a

By on

A while back I witnessed a truck hit a railroad bridge out in Lancaster, MA. A CSX train was approaching, and they held it shy of the bridge until the railroad could inspect it. Apparently even though the trailer was pretty much destroyed, the bridge hadn't been affected in the slightest, and the train passed over with the truck still wedged underneath.

The weight difference (and thus forces) of trucks and trains is significant enough that a bridge built strong enough to carry trains is not easily damaged by a truck, even plowing into it full speed.

That depends upon

By on

the type of bridge, how old the bridge is, how well (or poorly) maintained the bridge has been, and how many times the bridge has been impacted by overheight vehicles.