The Wilkes-Barre Township Police Department issued a scathing statement regarding “insufficient action on the part of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT)” following a runaway truck crash on Wednesday morning.

Runaway Semi Strikes Guardrail, Garage, After Brakes Fail on Giant’s Despair

The crash occurred shortly before 6 a.m. on Wednesday, November 9, in the area of Laurel Run, Pennsylvania.

Fox56 reports that a semi truck lost brake function on Giant’s Despair, striking a guardrail and then a two story residential garage on South Walnut Street before coming to a stop.

The truck driver suffered minor injuries.

The homeowner was not in the garage when the crash occurred.

Trucks weighing over 10 and a half tons are banned from using steep and winding Giant’s Despair, but many semi trucks are caught using the road anyway. In early October 2022, a truck driver hauling a load of steel coils was cited after ignoring the truck restriction signage and attempting a right turn on Giant’s Despair, resulting in a rollover crash. In early November 2017, a truck driver was killed after losing control on Giant’s Despair.

Local Police Lash Out At PennDOT For Failing To Stop Semis from Using Giant’s Despair

Shortly after the crash, Wilkes-Barre Township Police Chief Will Clark shared strong words about PennDOT’s “insufficient action” to stop heavy trucks on Giant’s Despair:

POLICE DEPARTMENT STATEMENT REGARDING TRACTOR TRAILER CRASH ON LEHIGH STREET:

Today’s tractor trailer crash is yet another example of the results of insufficient action on the part of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) in relation to oversized and overweight track traffic on Giant’s Despair and E. Northampton Street (both of which are State Route 2007). We have sought for years, for PennDOT to take the appropriate steps, whatever their engineers might determine those to be, to ensure that the restrictions on this state road are being adhered to. It is not only our municipality, but Laurel Run Borough and Bear Creek Township as well where residents are justifiably concerned for the safety of themselves and their families in relation to the willful disregard of the prohibition of truck traffic on Laurel Run Road coming in from State Route 115.

PennDOT’s response was to add additional restriction signage in multiple locations, but these are clearly being ignored. The number of tractor trailer crashes on the Giant have increased significantly and have unfortunately resulted in drivers and passengers being seriously injured and even killed. The operators of these trucks continue to use “passenger car” level GPS to find the shortest routes to their destinations, ending up, as in this case going down extremely steep hills, turning onto small alley ways and dead end roads, and using the neighborhood side streets of Georgetown as a runaway truck ramp. This is not acceptable. Manning the wheel of these enormous tractor trailers carries a huge responsibility on the part of the operator, and these drivers are failing in their obligations required by the possession of a commercial driver’s license.

Our department has stepped up enforcement on E. Northampton Street in the Township, even having a motor carrier enforcement certified officer on staff and we have issued citations to drivers in violation, however, where the problem needs to be most addressed is at the top of the mountain. Steps must be taken to prohibit these 53’ tractor trailers from ignoring the prohibition signs in order to take the “short cut” down the mountain. None of these drivers are from the area, they do not know how dangerous Giant’s Despair actually is.

After houses in Georgetown being crushed, trucks flipping over, drivers and passengers being injured and tragically killed, property destroyed, utility poles severed and homes without power for hours, our response to this severe problem is bounded by our lines of jurisdiction. We need PennDOT to step up to the call for action in order to avert the next tragedy.

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