Bridge strike warning for HGV drivers

FORS is encouraging members to heed warnings about bridge strikes, after Network Rail reveals bridges are struck by HGVs five times every day on average, across the UK.

Aligned with Network Rail’s ‘Lorries can’t Limbo’ campaign, 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.

Over 63,000 FORS members have completed the FORS Professional Bridge Smart eLearning module, which was launched in December 2018 to address the issue of HGVs striking bridges. And this positive uptake is helping to make a difference, with Network Rail reporting a 13 per cent decrease in bridge strike incidents nationally between April 2019 and April 2020 (compared to the previous year).

Despite these positive results, FORS Director John Hix says it is still a topic which should be front of mind. Hix said, “These are really positive results which I believe are a good reflection of the strong uptake of our Bridge Smart eLearning module since its launch. Yet, just like Network Rail, FORS wants to do even more to reduce incidents.

“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. The more we can do to educate drivers about the dangers of bridge strikes and how to avoid these, the better.”

FORS Professional Bridge Smart eLearning teaches 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 which can be adopted into fleet operations to help reduce the risk of bridge strikes, and worst-case scenario response planning. The toolkit also includes driver knowledge materials, internal communication resources and posters.

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

“We are encouraging all FORS members to download and use the free FORS Professional Bridge Smart toolkit and to make sure HGV drivers have completed FORS Professional Bridge Smart eLearning module to prevent such incidents and continue the downward trend into 2021.”