How Can We Stop Bridge Strikes?

One of the biggest fears when it comes to driving an HGV is unexpectedly running into a low bridge when you haven’t planned your journey properly. A recent report from the Traffic commissioners has labelled the number of bridge strike accidents as “unacceptable” as route planning is being tasked to the drivers themselves who aren’t being given “conversion charts” or the proper information they need to locate low bridges.

Click the link below to read the Traffic Commissioners article:

https://www.commercialmotor.com/news/compliance/traffic-commissioners-astonished-number-bridge-strikes

We understand that being involved in a bridge strike is extremely unpleasant for everyone involved, that’s why we’ve put together some tips that you can follow to try and avoid bridge strikes.

What Is A Bridge Strike?

A bridge strike is an accident where a vehicle, its load or other equipment collides with a bridge, it is extremely common for them to occur under railway bridges as they tend to be extremely low.

How to Prevent A Bridge Strike?

There are a few checks that you need to complete which will help reduce the possibility that you’ll be involved in a bridge strike. These include:

  • Knowing the height & width of your vehicle
  • Know the route you’re going to be taking & identify where low bridges are located
  • Follow traffic signs

Additionally, before you start a journey there are a few checks you will want to complete, as well as your HGV safety checks. The additional checks you need to complete include:

  • Checking the security & safety of your load
  • The height of the cab & trailer or any other equipment
  • The maximum width of your vehicle
  •  The correct maximum height of your vehicle is displayed in the cab

Don’t rely on the measurements that are already given, there are many factors that can affect the height & width of your vehicle. So, ensure you measure your vehicle so that you know the correct measurements. It is an offence if the travelling height is over 3 metres and the correct height isn’t displayed.

During your journey avoid using short cuts or diverting from your planned route when possible. This is because you may run into low bridges that weren’t mapped out on your planned route. Also, use HGV-specific navigation systems as these should account for low bridges.

Completing one of our drivers CPC courses will give you more knowledge on bridge strikes and how to prevent them.

Always Follow Road Signs

Traffic signs are often displayed at bridges to show maximum permitted heights when the bridge is less than 4.95m(16’3”) although, there aren’t always signs displayed. Two road signs to look out for are:

  • Red triangles which warn drivers
  • Red circles which prohibit drivers

If your vehicle’s dimensions are greater than those shown on a red triangle you shouldn’t pass that sign. However, if the dimensions of your vehicle are greater than the ones shown on a red circle you must stop and not go past that sign as you will collide with a bridge.

What to Do If A Bridge Strike Happens?

You may be wondering how to report a bridge strike? Well, there are different actions that need to be taken depending on which type of bridge you collide with.

Colliding with a railway bridge:

  • Report accident to Rail Authority so services stop on that bridge, information can be found on identification plate (on bridge)
  • Call the Police on 999 and report accident
  • Report bridge strike to your employer
  • Keep public away from accident and don’t move your vehicle

Other types of bridges:

  • Call 999 and report accident
  • Report bridge strike to your employer
  • Keep public away from accident and don’t move your vehicle

Consequences of Bridge Strikes

There are many consequences of a bridge strike both on the driver involved, the employer and other road users.

Consequences for railway bridges:

  • Trains can be derailed which can cause serious injuries to passengers
  • Safety of the public is at risk
  • Delays and stoppages of train services
  • Damage to other road users

Consequences for other road users:

  • Serious injuries
  • Disruption to road networks

Consequences on you:

  • You could be seriously injured
  • You can lose your licence or even face prison time
  • Lose your job

Consequences on your employer:

  • Lose Operators Licence
  • Pay all costs associated with the accident such as bridge repairs

To read more info on bridge strikes and how to prevent them click the link below to visit the Gov.uk website.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/28626/bridgestrikesprofdrivers.pdf

Overall, to try and reduce your risk of being involved in a bridge strike when you’re driving an HGV make sure you’ve completed the proper checks, know the height & width of your vehicle and its trailer/equipment and plan your route properly taking into account low bridges. You may wish to consider one of our CPC courses which will increase your driving knowledge & skill.

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