Truck drivers given bridge strike warning

Truck drivers and operators have been encouraged to heed warnings about bridge strikes, after figures from Network Rail show bridges are struck by HGVs five times every day on average in the UK.

Aligned with Network Rail’s ongoing ‘Lorries can’t Limbo’ campaign, haulier accreditation scheme FORS is reminding its members to ensure HGV drivers are fully aware of the dangers of potential bridge strikes. Bridge strikes are not only dangerous and extremely costly but can result in organisations losing their operator’s licence.

While the incidents of bridge strikes are falling – there was a 13% decrease in the number between April 2019 and April 2020, according to Network Rail – the danger is something that needs to be reinforced to operators and drivers alike.

“It is important to remember that unlike some complex safety challenges faced by road transport operators, bridge strikes are almost entirely avoidable, yet they cause significant damage and huge safety concerns,” said FORS director, John Hix. “The more we can do to educate drivers about the dangers of bridge strikes and how to avoid these, the better.”

Incidents of bridge strikes peak in the winter months, with HGV traffic increasing to meet the need for online deliveries, starting with Black Friday at the end of November, and continuing into December ahead of Christmas.  With predictions of even higher level of traffic this year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and regional lockdowns leaving shoppers reliant on online purchases, the warning is timely.

Hix added that operators should also bear in mind the longer-term consequences of bridge strikes.  “Traffic Commissioners are able to initiate proceedings against operators whose drivers strike bridges, with public inquiry results putting O Licences at risk,” he said. 

FORS offers members a Professional Bridge Smart eLearning module, which aims to teach transport managers and drivers to understand the dangers of bridge strikes, learning avoidance techniques, and cementing industry best practices to prevent bridge strikes in the future. The module is accompanied by a manager toolkit, which includes practical advice aimed at helping reduce the risk of bridge strikes, and worst-case scenario response planning. The toolkit also includes driver knowledge materials, internal communication resources and posters.

Dan Parton
Dan Parton
Dan Parton is a former editor of Truck & Driver, the UK’s biggest selling truck magazine. He is now writes for The Van Expert and The Truck Expert.

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