Avoid Bridge Strikes with Route Planning Software

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Last year the DVSA released new guidance for Daily Walkaround Checks regarding bridge strikes and vehicle height. Now, The Office for the Traffic Commissioner (OTC) has released new guidance, advising operators to use route planning software in order to avoid low bridges.

What happens when the vehicle is too high to safely pass under a bridge?

Whether caused by a miscalculation or a lapse in judgement, attempting to pass a vehicle under a bridge that is too low can cause damage to both the bridge structure and the vehicle, including any passengers. This in turn leads to serious delay to rail services and other road users at best – and risk injury or even death.

There is also the cost of repairs to consider.

Network Rail revealed that 43% of lorry drivers admit to not measuring their vehicle before heading out on the road – despite bridge strikes costing the UK taxpayer around £23 million in repairs annually in 2017-18. Hinckley railway bridge in Leicestershire is the ‘most hit’ bridge in the UK – with crashes almost once a fortnight on average.

Who is responsible when a vehicle hits a low bridge?

Operators are the ones legally required to have systems in place to prevent bridge strikes occurring. The OTC’s annual report says:

“Traffic commissioners address these incidents [bridge strikes] in the same way as any other serious incident, on a case by case basis. As commissioners have repeatedly made clear, regulatory action hangs over those operators who fail to take appropriate action.”

Equally, the DVSA reminds drivers to check their vehicle’s height:

“By making sure drivers check, record and fully appreciate the height of both their vehicle and load height each day, it can help prevent drivers striking bridges which are not high enough”

How to avoid bridge strikes

1. Check vehicle heights

This latest advice not only encourages to use of planning software but also training for drivers, transport managers and planners, combined with the use of height measurement gauges, to ensure drivers always know and understand the height of their vehicle:

“Request the driver to input the running height. This is to check that the driver knows what it is.”

Make measuring & recording vehicle and load height a standard part of daily walkaround checks for drivers in a system like the Stream’s walkaround check feature.

2. Route planning software

In this latest guidance, the OTC advise operators to use a route planning system that can prevent bridge strikes through routing:

By taking responsibility for risk-based route planning, operators can proactively avoid low bridges altogether. Integrating intelligent route optimisation with specialist HGV navigation like Turn, can give you advanced turn-by-turn navigation for commercial vehicles – including avoiding low bridges based on vehicle height

The office for the Traffic Commissioner reminds us to take preventative measures, and not “wait until you hit a bridge” before you put this type of system in place. Request your demo of Stream today, to learn how you can proactively avoid the expense and hassle of bridge strikes.


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