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3 Tips to Avoid Bridge Strikes

Middleton & Meads Avoid Bridge Strikes

Knowing how to effectively avoid bridge strikes won’t just make your job easier—it could actually save your life.

If you’ve been on the internet, you have probably seen footage of bridge strikes. These are far more common than they should be, and they can be incredibly dangerous. These kinds of strikes can leave the truck driver and even people in nearby vehicles with significant injuries, and sometimes they can even be fatal. According to Penske, 12 deaths were caused by bridge strikes between 2014-2018. A little extra legwork can minimize the risk of bridge strikes and protect drivers from these harrowing ordeals.

Use the Right GPS

Everyone has their preference when it comes to GPS, but truck drivers need to be pickier than everyone else. If your GPS does not have an option for semi-trucks, look for a commercial GPS that is specialized to handle routes for professional truck drivers. The reason this is so important is that truckers can’t afford to lose time getting lost, but even more critically, they can’t afford a bridge strike because the GPS on their phone took them down a normal route meant for cars and standard trucks. A lot of these GPS programs don’t account for bridge heights, and that can spell serious trouble for truck drivers.

Measure Your Truck

You should measure your truck and every trailer you attach to it. It may seem like a silly extra step, but it gives you an accurate measurement and peace of mind when you know exactly how tall your truck is. This can help you plan your route effectively and safely so that you don’t need to worry about accidental bridge strikes.

Gain Insight

You should be gathering information when you’re preparing to drive an unfamiliar route. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Talk to other drivers or your company about the route you’re taking.
  • Know where bridge strikes are more common (according to Penske, New York and North Carolina are infamous for bridge strikes).
  • Determine if the road has been resurfaced (this adds inches).
  • Account for extra space when there is snow and ice on the road (these can add inches).

Signs for bridge clearance can be misleading, especially in areas where the road has been resurfaced multiple times. Every resurfacing adds height to the road, closing the gap between the top of the bridge and the asphalt. Unfortunately, the signs are rarely updated to display the new level of clearance. Over the decades, as road work continues, the road can gain several inches while the sign remains the same—this could result in a bridge strike.

If you ever meet a bridge that you’re not sure about, don’t be afraid to pull off to the side and find a way around. It’s better to spend a few extra minutes looking for a safer path than to chance a bridge strike.


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