The state highway department plans more warning signs on a steep, hilly road in the Arkansas Ozarks after several wrecks involving large trucks.
In the past 21/2 years, seven trucks have wrecked on a 2-mile stretch of Arkansas 43 near Ponca in the Buffalo National River area. Authorities and local residents say that a vehicle’s GPS system doesn’t indicate just how steep the road is or how sharp the hairpin curves can be.
“Several of them go through here with their brakes smoking or on fire,” said Austin Albers, general manager of the Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca.
Jarred Morgan, chief deputy for the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, said truckers occasionally get stuck on the hairpin turns in his county.
“Nine out of 10 times when we have a truck get hung up on these roads they are following GPS,” Morgan said.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that one of the recent wrecks involved a truck driver from Iowa, who crashed on a curve at Ponca while hauling 40,000 pounds of cargo. The driver wasn’t hurt, but the truck and trailer were deemed a total loss, said Mehdin Ibrahimovic, president of Hawkeye Transportation LLC of Evansdale, Iowa.
“It was a heavy load,” Ibrahimovic said. “The driver said he didn’t know it was that steep. He thought it was just a shortcut. It just showed a straight line. It didn’t show how big that hill was.”
Steve Lawrence, an engineer with the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, said new signs are planned for the highway that say: “Crooked and steep next 3 miles. Drive with care.” Lawrence said the signs should be posted within the next two months.