‘Mind the Gap’ – Tips To Prevent Bridge Strikes
Written by Jessie Lee & Reviewed by Peter Howitt
Bridge strikes pose a major risk for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in the UK, leading to costly damages, disruptions in traffic flow, and potential safety hazards.
Responsible HGV driving and sticking to height clearance regulations are essential to avoid bridge strikes and ensure the safety of both drivers and the physical property.
In this blog, we share some practical tips for responsible HGV driving, equipping you with the knowledge and strategies to prevent bridge strikes and navigate the HGV driving journey with utmost caution.
Here are 19 top tips to help prevent the bridge strike and have a safe and more enjoyable driving experience:
1. Know Your HGV’s Height Clearance:
Responsible HGV driving starts with a clear understanding of your vehicle’s height clearance. Measure your HGV accurately, accounting for any additional load, and always know its exact height. This knowledge will help you plan your routes and avoid low bridges that could endanger your vehicle and cargo.
2. Research Bridge Heights Along Your Route:
Thoroughly research bridge heights along your planned route. Only use reliable navigation apps or resources that provide up-to-date information on bridge clearances. Being aware of potential low-clearance areas ahead of time allows you to choose alternative routes that are suitable for your HGV.
3. Comply With Road Signs And Warnings:
Pay close attention to road signs, specifically those indicating low bridges or height restrictions. Follow the guidance provided and take necessary detours when directed. Ignoring or missing these signs can have severe consequences, both financially and in terms of safety.
4. Use Technology For Height Clearance Information:
Leverage technology to enhance your HGV driving experience and mitigate the risk of bridge strikes. Make use of navigation systems and mobile apps that offer real-time alerts for low bridges or height restrictions. These tools provide valuable information, allowing you to make informed decisions while on the road.
5. Stay Up To Date With Temporary Height Restrictions
Be aware that temporary height restrictions may be imposed due to construction or special events. Stay informed about any temporary changes in bridge heights by following local news or contacting relevant authorities. Stay alert to temporary signage, flaggers, or warning systems that may indicate altered bridge clearances.
6. Ensure Proper Load Distribution And Securement:
Maintain proper load distribution within your HGV to prevent any height changes that may increase the risk of bridge strikes. Ensure your cargo is secured safely, avoiding any load shift that could potentially raise the height of your vehicle.
7. Stay Focused And Avoid Distractions:
Responsible HGV driving requires your full attention. Minimise distractions, such as mobile phone usage or adjusting equipment, to stay focused on the road. Remaining alert allows you to identify height warnings, road signs, and potential hazards in a timely manner.
8. Seek Professional Advice For Challenging Routes:
If you regularly drive on routes with complex or unfamiliar bridges, seek advice from professionals such as your experienced transport manager or local authorities. They can provide guidance specific to your HGV’s dimensions, helping you navigate challenging areas safely and confidently.
9. Continuous Education And Training:
Stay updated with bridge strike prevention measures through ongoing education and training programs. Regularly refresh your knowledge of height clearance regulations and responsible driving practices. These initiatives contribute to your professional development and reinforce safe driving habits.
10. Stay Mindful Of Saturation Levels:
Be aware that road surfaces and conditions, such as snow and ice, can affect the height clearance of your HGV. Frozen ice buildup on the road may reduce the available height under bridges. Adjust your driving and be extra cautious during adverse weather conditions to account for potential height changes.
11. Utilise Bridge Strike Warning Systems:
Some areas may have specialised bridge strike warning systems installed. These systems use sensors to detect over-height vehicles approaching a bridge and trigger warning signs or signals. Pay attention to these warning systems and take appropriate action to prevent a bridge strike.
12. Communicate With Dispatch And Colleagues:
Stay in touch with your dispatch team and fellow HGV drivers. Share information about bridge heights, detours, or any road closures you encounter. Collaborative communication helps create a network of shared knowledge to avoid potential bridge strikes.
13. Be Prepared For Diversion Routes:
In the event of a bridge closure or unexpected height restriction, have a clear understanding of available diversion routes in the area. Familiarise yourself with alternative roads and have maps or navigation systems ready to guide you safely around such obstacles.
14. Check For Bridge Strike Reports:
Stay informed about recent bridge strikes in your area. Local transportation authorities or news outlets may report incidents that could affect your planned routes. Stay updated on these reports to adjust your route accordingly and avoid potential bridge strikes.
15. Follow HGV-Specific Navigation:
Always use SatNavs and apps specifically designed for HGV drivers. These tools often provide specialised route planning, considering HGV-specific restrictions, including bridge heights, weight limits, and road regulations.
16. Conduct Pre-Trip Inspections:
Before setting off on your journey, conduct daily walkaround checks of your HGV. Check for any equipment issues that may affect the height clearance of your vehicle. Fix any problems promptly to ensure safe passage under bridges.
17. Stay Updated With Bridge Maintenance Schedules:
Stay informed about bridge maintenance schedules and potential closures in your area. By staying updated, you can proactively plan your routes to avoid any maintenance-related bridge restrictions or disruptions.
18. Report Inaccurate Height Clearance Signage:
If you come across inaccuracies or missing height clearance signage on bridges, report the issue to the appropriate transportation authorities. Your feedback can help improve the accuracy of height restriction information, benefiting both drivers and authorities.
19. Foster A Culture Of Safety:
Promote a culture of safety among your colleagues, fellow drivers, and within your organisation. Encourage responsible driving practices, height clearance awareness, and open communication about bridge strike prevention. By working together, we can create a safer environment for all HGV drivers on the road.
Remember, preventing bridge strikes requires constant vigilance, responsible driving practices, and a commitment to staying informed. If you can incorporate these tips into your driving routine, you can avoid the risk of bridge strikes and contribute to the safety of the roadways.
Responsible HGV driving plays a crucial role in preventing bridge strikes and safeguarding road infrastructure.
By following these tips, including knowing your HGV’s height clearance, researching bridge heights, complying with road signs, utilising technology, staying updated on temporary restrictions, ensuring load distribution, staying focused, seeking professional advice, and pursuing continuous education, you can significantly minimise the risk of bridge strikes.
Embrace responsible HGV driving practices, protect your cargo, and contribute to safer roadways for all.
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