Homeowners shaken after near miss from big rig
Special from the Bay Times
— Denise Harting had just stepped off her front porch and back into the house after feeding her cats July 6 when a tractortrailer carrying a full load of asphalt millings overturned in her yard, just missing the house.
Trees in Harting’s front yard — which were destroyed — and a berm of dirt planted by the previous homeowners likely slowed the vehicle enough to keep it from sliding into the home.
The initial report from Maryland State Police Centreville Barracks identified the vehicle that landed in Harting’s yard as a green, 2003 International Truck Tractor driven by Christopher Corey Carvalho, of Navron, Pa.
Carvalho had a minor passenger with him. The vehicle was traveling east on state Route 304 in the area of Dean Road about 11 a.m., and weather conditions were reported as clear.
Saturday, three days after the accident, Harting was still visibly shaken — try-
ing to recover from what could have been a much more devastating accident, she said.
Debris and truck parts littered the yard and tire marks were still visible on the road. Remnants of the truck’s load of asphalt millings piled in the front and side yard. The tree that was in front of Harting’s porch was shattered in pieces against the house.
At the corner of the yard facing 304, Harting’s husband, Paul, placed a large sign that said, “Thanks Truckers, Slow Down!”
Paul Harting has himself been a commercial truck driver for many years and is well aware, he said, of the stress and danger of the job. He also said he knows how easily excess speed can cause a truck to turn over or not be able to slow down in time.
The posted speed limit in front of the Hartings’ house, next to the Ruthsburg Community Center, is 30 mph.
During the Hartings’ interview, a tanker truck approached, traveling seemingly in excess of the posted speed limit. Paul Harting flagged the driver down and spoke with him about his speed.
Denise Harting said they are often met with crude hand gestures and honks when they stand in front of their house and wave for drivers to slow their speed.
The Hartings both said they are upset and frustrated with the strain of having to repeatedly contact the insurance company and the added stress the accident has added to their daily lives.
They said they are most upset that they keep hearing, “It could have been worse.”
Is it going to take someone getting killed here before people realize how serious this problem is, they asked.
They noted that pedestrians frequently cross that stretch of road to access their mailboxes and also pointed out a school bus stop in the immediate vicinity and bicycle traffic toward the Adkins Arboretum and Tuckahoe State Park.
SHA performed a speed study of the Route 304 (Ruthsburg Road) and state Route 481 (Damsontown Road) intersection in spring 2002, Charlie Gischlar, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said. The study showed that motorists may have been, at the time, exceeding the speed limit through Ruthsburg because the approach speed to the town, from the east and west, was 50 mph and quickly lowered to 25 mph near Route 481 in town.
SHA and the community worked together to help motorists be able to better slow through the Ruthsburg by lowering the approach speed from 50 mph to 40 mph and increasing the town speed limit from 25 mph to 30 mph, Gischlar said.
Reports from SHA indicate the average daily traffic volume near the Route 304 and Route 481 intersection is nearly 3,700 vehicles per day. Truck traffic — semis and single-unit trucks — make up about 12 percent of the 3,700, or about 325 trucks daily.
West of Route 481, there is no shoulder and very little SHA right of way. From Route 481 and continuing east where the right of way is wider, there appears to be 6-foot shoulders, Gischlar reported.
Tpr. E. Pertain said the accident report was still pending at press time. He added there likely will be an increase in patrol in that area of highway.