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A group of Philadelphia area school students and chaperones were injured Saturday night when the driver of their bus struck an overpass on a Boston highway.

The Passengers were on their way back from a trip to Harvard University. The trip was sponsored by Bristol PA based Destined for a Dream Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping underprivileged youth.

So far, it appears that all of the passengers survived the crash. 34 passengers were injured. One of them sustained life-threatening injuries.

The driver was identified as 66-year-old Samuel J. Jackson from Philadelphia. Despite low clearance signs, Jackson crashed into a bridge on Soldier's Field Road,a major roadway to the Massachusetts Turnpike around 7:30 PM.

Jackson was driving a bus rented from Calvary Coach based in West Philadelphia. According to PennDOT, Calvary has been cited for two unspecified safety violations in the past.

According to a spokesperson from Calvary, Jackson may have been checking his GPS at the time of the crash.

During the last few years, we have seen an increase in the amount of tour bus accidents. It is disheartening to know that this accident may have been prevented had the driver been paying attention to the road and the warning signs as opposed to driving distracted.

For more information on preventing distracted driving, please visit

To learn more about bus crashes, please visit:


  1. Gravatar for Kathy

    The direction signs on that road are almost usless for those who do not already know the way. It is easy to become confused as to which way to go. Same goes for Mem Dr. GPS is often wrong.

    It might be helpful to understand how so many of these too tall crashes in Boston/Cambridge happen is a survey was done of all drivers that use those river highways to discover how many drivers went under rather than around. You would be surprized.

    It would cost the state $$$$ to correct this problem, but is is so much easier to blame the 'ignorant' driver.

    Welcome to Massachusettes!


  2. Gravatar for Chuck BV
    Chuck BV

    This is not distracted driving per se; it is a first cousin. The driver apparently trying to navigate an unfamiliar route which he was unable to do solo and without technological assistance, and he put too much faith in the route provided by the GPS guidance. The former would predispose someone to think "that low clearance means 1 ft higher than my vehicle", and the latter has led other drivers to disasterous detours into blizard-choked mountain passes or roads to nowhere in the desert.

  3. Michael Monheit

    @Kathy - A driver should map out his route before leaving. This is well known in the trucking industry.

    For example at the web site there is an article “Low Clearance Bridges and Overpasses: How to watch out for and avoid them.

    It says:

    You're a professional. You're supposed to know well in advance of going under an overpass whether or not your truck has the clearance to do so safely. … To the best of our knowledge, all permanent low clearances (at least in the continental USA) are well marked -- both on the roads and in the front of a good motor carrier road atlas (like the Rand McNally 2011 Deluxe Motor Carriers Road Atlas with Spiral Binding & Laminated Pages.

    And this about GPS routing:

    GPS Routing - Some professional drivers have relied on non-trucking specific GPS units to route them. In following the advice of the device (and not authoritative instructions), they have unwittingly set themselves up for failure. They may think, "But my GPS told me to go this way!" and proceed on without consulting their atlas, taking heed of warning signs or using common sense. Ka-bam! Ouch!

    In October 2009, reported in an article entitled "GPS Causing Truckers to Crash Into Bridges": New York state wants to crack down on truckers who rely on satellite devices to direct them onto faster but prohibited routes and end up crashing into overpasses that are too low for their rigs.


    New York state alone has seen more than 1,400 bridge strikes in the past 15 years, including 46 so far this year in suburban Westchester County, testing many old bridges already in need of repair, said County Executive Andrew J. Spano. One bridge in his county was hit nine times this year.

    "This sort of culture of just following the GPS and almost ignoring the road signs has created this public hazard," Paterson told reporters.


    If you're in the market for a Global Positioning System (GPS) in your truck, be sure that it is designed for large trucks (commercial motor vehicles) and has low clearance information.

    Naturally, companies should provide commercial GPS devises for their drivers or not allow their use.

  4. Michael Monheit

    @Chuck BV - Good point. Still, it is not clear whether the driver was distracted by the GPS, relied on it for his route, or both. Nevertheless, every driver is trained to never look at these devices while moving. The distraction element partially explains missing the signs and warnings of a low bridge.

  5. Gravatar for Kathy


    Apparently you missed my point, as you eagerly espose your position. Let me clarify. Even those of us who live here continue to make mistakes on these two roads.

    We have overpass hits monthly, if not weekly.

    Long time, knowledgable, clean record drivers are caught in our low underpass traps.

    The maps available, even for truckers are a NIGHTMARE of confusion.

    The entrance to the Mass Pike is embedded at the intersection of River St, Western Ave Overpasses and Storrow Dr where it becomes Soldiers Field Rd.

    Is it your position that a high frequency accident area on a highway be ignored as a safety issue, and we continue to blame sdriver ignorance?

    It is the State of Massachussettes that needs to address this issue in a meaningful way.

    The bus driver is as mush a victim as the passengers.

  6. Michael Monheit

    @Kathy - Are you paid to drive for a living? The driver here was. This is a professional driver we are talking about, driving students, no less. He owes a duty to know his route.

    Of course I would never suggest that a high accident area should be ignored. All the more reason that drivers like this, as the operators of a common carrier vehicles, owe the highest standard of care to his/her passengers.

    So fix the road and signs. But while doing so, I would not excuse the driver's ignorance and the bus company's allowance of such ignorance of the dangers in the route chosen.

  7. Gravatar for Kathy

    Here is just one post on the issue of accidents on Mem Dr and Storrow Dr.

    I would like to point out that the Allston entrance to the MA Turnpike is specifically mentioned.

    Also, one should know that Harvard bought the Allston entrance to the MA Pike several years ago. They have done absolutely nothing to improve access to and from this entrance.

    I live right up the one way streets to this area, and the sirens roared past my house all night last night.

    Our City Council tried to address the issue of too many signs at the same place distracting drivers, but that was for the City. Considering the direction the bus was going in, the portion of the highway that goes under the overpass is blocked from view by a blind curve. The bus should have exited prior to the overpass, at Western Ave, and traveled down to the River St Overpass, and then made a rt turn to the Pike. But he didn't know that, and the signs are not forward enough to give warning in time.

    I am speaking of a specific roadway and a specific problem with that roadway, which all of us who live and work nearby know about. It is nothing more that a dangerous trap. By all means, rent a truck and come up and drive around Boston/Cambridge for a while. It's my understanding than hundreds of comertial drivers refuse to work in or thru Boston.

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