Police report: Language barrier may have prevented truck driver from understanding signs warning of low bridge on Onondaga Lake Parkway

Local News

SALINA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — A man from Ohio has been ticketed for crashing his truck into the notoriously low railroad bridge over Onondaga Lake Parkway.

The developments were revealed Tuesday in a police report obtained by NewsChannel 9, nearly 24 hours after the crash.

The report shows that in addition to the driver’s lack of familiarity with the frequent problem spot, his limited use of the English language may have prohibited him from understanding the warning signs.

Police were only able to get his side of the story through the driver’s boss translating his explanation given in Arabic over the phone.

A video of the crash, recorded by a driver behind the truck and sent to NewsChannel 9, has been watched and shared on social media tens of thousands of times.

Before knowing of the language barrier, many people commenting on social media called the truck driver out for ignoring the signs.

Other commenters focused on the man who recorded the video, using his cell phone while driving and not attempting to warn the truck of the dangers up ahead.

Sgt. Jon Seeber, of the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office, tells NewsChannel 9, “(The video) certainly gives us some insight on what happened, but also it puts that driver at risk and other motorists at risk, operating your cell phone while driving. I think, in this case, it would have been more appropriate (for the driver behind to truck) to utilize his vehicle horn or flash the headlights, something to gain the driver’s attention. Sometimes we act on sounds instead of visually seeing things.”

The truck driver was not hurt and no other injuries were reported.

Onondaga Lake Parkway is operated by the New York State Department of Transportation.

In response to the signage and the driver’s language barrier, a DOT spokesperson tells NewsChannel 9’s Andrew Donovan, “DOT signs and variable message board displays are based on and comply with national standards which are described in the federal Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The MUTCD establishes standard traffic signs and messages that are intended to be read and understood by licensed drivers, including licensed commercial vehicle operators.”

Also asked about the reoccurring crashes with the bridge, the DOT reports that $25 million is included in the next state budget “to help prevent bridge strikes on New York State parkways.”

“We are currently evaluating bridge strike prevention projects on a number of state roads including the Onondaga Lake Parkway and will consider additional measures to enhance the signs, markings and warning devices as part of a future project,” the DOT spokesperson writes.

More from NewsChannel 9:

For more local news, follow Andrew Donovan on Twitter @AndrewDonovan

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