My Facebook friend Carrie posted this photo of a truck pretending to be a sardine can as it went through a Storrow Drive underpass in Boston. People who added comments were very quick to blame the driver. It is very easy to do so, as s/he probably didn't notice the sign on the bridge indicating the clearance, but there is a bigger problem here.
I have often told the story of how Bill Geary solved this problem when he was MDC Commissioner in the 1980s. He installed rubber signs and cowbells (yes cowbells, to make noise) at every entrance to Storrow and Memorial Drive. The signs were set at a height just slightly lower than the underpasses. The idea was that your truck would hit a sign and ring the bell and you would not proceed along the drive and get stuck.
Before Bill invented this low-tech solution, there was one accident per week on Storrow or Memorial drive. Afterward, they were virtually eliminated.
One time I told the story, a commenter noted:
Overheight warnings are nothing new, but as you say, they need to be put up (first) and then maintained in order to be effective.
Signs are fine, but signage at the turn from the Mass Pike Allston offramp to Storrow Drive is a bad example of our Massachusetts tendency to assume that everyone who drives on our roads already knows (a) where they are, (b) where they are going, and (c) how to (or in this case how not to) get there.
Another time, someone said:
Your comment on that scene illustrates a principle unfortunately common to governing bodies of organizations (including hospitals) - a problem is fixed, but the solution, over time, is not maintained, often due to changes in staff, apathy, etc. Then the problem inevitably resurfaces and, lo and behold! One must have another whole series of meetings, discussions, etc. to solve it all over again - because everyone has forgotten the previous solution, or downsizing has eliminated the institutional memory. Now THAT also wastes time and resources.
See the next blog post (above) about another case of misplaced blame in the presence of systemic problems.