Bridge Strikes:

What are the main causes?

 

The issue fleets face

Bridge strikes have huge consequences for fleets year on year with the average collision costing around £13, 000. In addition to paying for inspections and repairs to road infrastructure, vehicles and other road users, companies are liable to pay for any disruption the strike has caused. Even if the damage is minimal, fleets could be fined significant amounts if other parties have been greatly inconvenienced.

More importantly, both drivers and operators who crash into a bridge as a result of careless or negligent behaviour could also have their licence revoked and face the possibility of prosecution.

To prevent bridge strikes, it’s important to understand why they happen so that measures can be put in place to minimise the risk of them occurring.

Drivers failing to measure the height of their vehicle

Road signs next to low bridges tell drivers the maximum permitted vehicle height that can safely pass through, however if the height of a large vehicle is not measured, this then leads to drivers making their own judgement which can often be a miscalculation.

Relying on drivers to measure their vehicle before every shift can be problematic as they either aren't aware of the importance of this process, or it simply adds to their already high workload.

According to a survey conducted by Network Rail, 43% of lorry drivers admitted they did not know the size of their vehicle which demonstrates the scale of the issue.

 

Driver fatigue

Working long hours on monotonous roads can have a significant impact on levels of tiredness with an estimated 10-20% of crashes being fatigue-related. Falling asleep at the wheel can see drivers travelling hundreds of metres without even knowing it, so it’s no surprise that low bridges collisions are a frequent consequence of this behaviour.

Technology like the DDAI can help to prevent accidents like this from occurring by alerting the driver when they’re showing signs of fatigue. Making the driver aware of their state encourages them to stop and take a break which can hugely minimise the risk they pose to road users and help to avoid these costly crashes.

Poor route planning or diversions

Not having enough information on where low bridges are located or not taking them into account at all when planning a route can lead to drivers encountering bridges that are too low for their vehicle to drive through. What can be categorised as a ‘safe’ low bridge for a driver to go through are completely specific to the individual vehicle which can make things trickier when deciding on a path.

Also, unforeseen situations that cause drivers to take alternative routes such as road closures and diversions can mean that despite initial best efforts to avoid them, low bridges could obstruct the new route taken by the driver.

 

How can technology help to prevent bridge strikes?

Relying on a driver to measure the height of their vehicle before every shift, pick an effective route that takes all low bridges into account, and spend time picking a new route if there are road closures and diversions can add to their already high workload. They may also not have access to information on the thousands of low bridges across the UK to aid in their route planning.

Our Low Bridge Alerting System acts as a preventative measure to help fleets avoid these bridge strikes with no driver input required.

With this solution, the driver doesn’t need to know the height of the trailer their tractor is attached to, as it has already been inputted into the alerting system meaning they can let this innovative technology alert them when a low bridge is along their route, giving them every opportunity to avoid a bridge strike.

>> Learn more about Low Bridge Alerting System
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Low Bridge Alerting System

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Minimising risk of low bridge collisions with no driver input required

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