Along the Green Mountains in Vermont is scenic Route 108. Better known as Smugglers' Notch, this narrow mountain pass is one of the most dramatic roads in the entire state given how winding it is. But to locals, it's also known as a trap for out-of-state truckers who don't know to avoid it.
For years, truckers have ignored the barrage of warnings (like permanent signs, road markings, and even lit-up notices) presented to them before navigating down Smugglers' Notch. And every year, without fail, these trucks end up stuck in one of the many sharp corners. Despite efforts from local government and increased penalties for offenders, trucks still manage to continually wedge themselves into a corner and become victims of The Notch.
In 2022, five trucks got stuck when drivers decided to ignore the warning signs and cut through Smugglers' Notch. The same number of trucks got stuck in 2021, and before that, the average yearly rate of Notch victims was eight, though that number was as high as 11 in recent years.
A truck driver looking to take a shortcut to the Ben & Jerry's factory was lodged in the rocky pass last June. The driver ultimately decided to unhook their cab from the trailer and proceeded down the mountain pass before calling the police and informing them of the situation. Ultimately, the 3.5-mile stretch of road was blocked for hours while emergency crews and a recovery company had to remove the stuck trailer, all while preventing the precious cargo inside from being spoiled by the heat.
George McRae, a seasoned tow truck operator, was the person who was able to remove the trailer from the Notch. He told the Boston Globe that his services will run freight companies between $3,500 and $5,000 to dislodge stuck trucks. And that's on top of the $1,000 fine that truck drivers receive from local police—or $2,000 if it causes a traffic backup.
Locals say that's still not enough. Facebook comments call for license revocations, higher fines, and worse. When a public forum was held to discuss potential solutions, residents suggested implementing sensors to detect vehicles too large to traverse the road. Others asked for more rudimentary measures, like a 13-foot archway or difficult-to-navigate island ahead of the curvy section of road. Clearly, the signs and road markings ahead of the road simply aren't working well enough.
Despite the hardships, locals are still poking fun at the situation. Some have made toys to mock the situation, others make memes, and one organization even used the opportunity to create a fundraising pool.
Lawmakers, however, have had enough. Both those writing the law and those enforcing it have begun blaming GPS providers for sending trucks down the road rather than navigating around it. In fact, a new bill was introduced that seeks to fine GPS providers $2,000 every time one of their navigation products sends an inappropriately-sized truck down the Notch and it becomes stuck.
Whether or not the legislation will solve the problem of the Notch is unknown. It seems that drivers are just blindly following GPS directions and getting stuck despite the many signs, so hopefully, some intervention from these navigation companies might help. And if they won't change things at the request of state police, some good ol' fashion fines could persuade them otherwise.
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