Needs more cowbell

Paul Levy considers the weekend bus crash and recounts how the state solved the problem 30 years ago - by hanging cowbells from the warning signs at the entrances to Storrow Driver and Soldiers Field Road, after then MDC Commissioner Bill Geary told his underlings to call a cow farmer to ask where they got their bells:

The frequency of crashes in the underpasses went from one per week to less than one per year. ...

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts solved the problem of bus crashes on this road 30 years ago. A lack of maintenance or will or understanding on the part of the state administration caused this problem to recur this past weekend. It was, in a sense, inevitable.

And it will happen again and again unless the state agency gets it act together.

Meanwhile, Charles Bahne, who has led bus tours of the Boston area for 30 years, explains why he had trouble getting to sleep after hearing about the crash:

Clearly the driver was completely lost. He had not bothered to plan his route or to ask directions from anyone locally. When you, the bus driver, are responsible for the safety of 40 or 50 other people, that is the utmost of irresponsibility. And despite being lost, he was traveling at an excessive rate of speed.



Free tagging: 


The red warning signs that are supposed to light up

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when they detect an overheight vehicle entering Storrow Drive originally had audible alarms as well when they were first installed a couple of decades ago. But, apparently, the signs were being activated so much that several of the abutters (including the Doubletree Hotel) complained about the noise.

So the MDC, whose motto apparently is "asthetics and convenience before safety" disconnected the alarms.


Cite? If vehicles were

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If vehicles were setting off the alarm, wasn't there even more noise when they hit the following bridge, and more noise after that from all the fire trucks and ambulances?

What about the similar sign

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What about the similar sign at Mass Ave and Mem Drive? Were the professors who teach in Building 1 complaining about the noise as well?


Ask yourself this question

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How many more trucks would hit the trestle in Durham if the signs and lights weren't there.

Sorry, but asthetics is a poor excuse to not provide adequate warning to drivers.


Why don't you ask yourself is a website owned by people in the area who have a webcam on the damn thing. They just recorded the 60th hit in 58 months. Perhaps they could tell you how few trucks divert or avoid crashing because they see these things and react appropriately. Doesn't seem like too many do.

Cite statistics please

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Looks like a heavily traveled road and website authors note that many trucks do turn off for neighboring businesses.

Over one truck a month seems really high!

Unless there are 100,000 trucks by passing the bridge a month.

Care to clarify, Dr?

And, to un-muddy the waters a bit more- this isn't a parkway where trucks are prohibited. In fact, it's a road trucks are allowed on until the last minute when this freak bridge shows up.

Quite a different scenario then the local " cars only" roads.

Professional drivers...

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...need to be professional. Put up cowbells, or whatever you want but at the end of the day if you are licensed as a professional driver of large vehicles like semi's or tour buses, you need to drive responsibly. Being lost in a city you don't know in your Honda Accord is one thing; a huge bus filled with people for whose safety you are responsible is another. Plan things out, slow it the hell down, especially in the dark.

There are atlases (the old dead-tree variety) that map out height and weight restrictions for truckers. I imagine some of these have been put into navigation systems, but maybe not -- my trucking days are well in the past (great business opp if so). Regardless, you should plot out your route ahead of time taking into consideration the limitations of your vehicle (or the roads it will travel on, as the case may be).

Now college students from out of town renting a U-Haul....ok, that's kind of expected. Professional truckers, coach drivers, etc., that's not acceptable.

Size, color of the sign; flashing lights on a height trigger; hanging mudflaps, cow bells or explosive goat carcasses - whatever. You're driving a huge vehicle, pay attention, because the road conditions won't pay attention for you. Do tall people need dangling bells in front of low doorways? If it's really hobbit-like you put up a sign and hope Goliath can read.



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As some may know, I am a professional driver. In many cases where I have been in a city I'm not familiar with, when the client is out of the car I will do dry runs to both our next destination and how to get to the interstate from there. I tell the client that's what I'm going to do so they know where I am.

Now these buses park on Mt Auburn Street and sit there most of the time their passengers are walking Harvard, many times with other drivers, most of them local. I see them all the time jawing with each other at that bus stop. This guy could have either done a dry run down Mass Ave to Western or could have asked one of the other drivers the safe way to get to the Pike. It was entirely up to him.

"Explosive goat carcasses"

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I loved everything about this comment except the part where I choked on my triscuit in reading your list of possible warning signals.

photo of missing CARS ONLY sign

Paul Levy took his photo, showing only the high bar and chains without the CARS ONLY sign, on Sunday morning. If the sign was really missing on Saturday, then the state contributed to this accident. But is it possible that the sign was missing because the bus had just hit it and knocked it down the night before?


I can't speak to this with

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I can't speak to this with 100% certainty, BUT:

I seem to recall that the last time I was at that intersection, roughly a month ago, I noticed while sitting at the red light waiting to turn from the bridge to that very Soldiers Field Rd. onramp that the CARS ONLY sign was missing.

(I freely admit that I could be thinking of a time further in the past, or of a different Storrow/Memorial/Soldiers Field onramp. However, I do feel like it was pretty recent, so the month ago timeframe and location fit with trips I have made in the last couple of months.)

If you see a missing sign,

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If you see a missing sign, especially one that's crucial for safety, do the right thing and *report it*!


A lawsuit the state will win

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There is still a low clearance warning and signs on the bridge hit going fast enough to take the roof off and play through.

The driver still ignored or failed to respond to either of these warnings because he had his GPS on and his foot to the pedal.

True, but

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The only basis for a lawsuit will be whether or not the state provided the minimum amount of information required by law in a standard fashion.

Not whether or not additional measures intended to prevent accidents were properly maintained.

If the low clearnance sign with the swinging cars only piece wasn't required, it isn't required to be properly maintained, either.


Assuming "the news" based its report on this morning's Globe story, they're referring to "low-hanging 'cars only' signs" on the main roadway, like those at River Street. An overheight vehicle would already have passed/hit/ignored the signs at the on-ramp and on the overpass itself.

No excuse.

I think

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The "thwack" of the sign hitting your truck or bus should be enough. Is the cowbell actually noticeable inside a moving truck/bus? I'm leaning towards no.


why isn't it the driver's fault?

Thsi is Boston, not Dubai. It's old. Even the new roads are old. They were not made for the monster vehicles that have taken over the US.

Every year there are trucks jammed under overpasses in Boston. Some of these stories even make the national news. If I was planning to be a tour bus driver that makes trips into Boston, I'd be aware of this.

The driver's ignorance/inability to pay attention to signs, GPS, maps, cowbells, flashing lights, leaping gnomes or whatever else is not the State's fault, nor is it the city's fault.

It's his fault.