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Are truck drivers cited when they get their truck stuck under the railroad bridge and do they have to pay for the damages?
It’s a pretty simple math equation. The clearance through the railroad overpass on South Orange Street in Carlisle is 12 feet 10 inches.
The average height of a tractor trailer is 13 feet 6 inches, according the Federal Highway Administration.
That means about 8 inches of a standard tractor trailer will not fit under the railroad bridge. That does not stop some drivers from trying in Carlisle.
It has become a semiregular occurrence where portions of South Orange Street and West High Street are closed to help assist a driver who attempted to squeeze his or her truck through the road only to get wedged in because of the fickle nature of the laws of physics.
Drivers who attempt the trek through the clearly all-too-small tunnel do face sanctions.
“If they tell you your truck’s not going to fit and you drive through and get stuck, that’s your fault,” Carlisle Police Chief Taro Landis.
Landis said the most obvious vehicle code violation is failing to abide by traffic-control devices. That violation carries a $150 fine, according to the Pennsylvania vehicle code.
Landis also said the driver can be cited for any issues with the tractor-trailer that may render it out of compliance with the vehicle code, like having a broken headlight.
The fine and associated fees, however, do not cover the cost of the damage done by attempting to drive a 13-foot tall vehicle through a 12-foot tall overpass.
For that, Landis said, the insurance companies take over.
He said the police department issues an accident report for the incident, which can then be used by the insurance company covering the truck and for Norfolk Southern, which owns the bridge.
So, why is this what appears to be a relatively common occurrence?
Landis said the issue tends to be that drivers, who do not know the area, are focusing on the route designated by their GPS device and fail to take note of the height warning.
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