Fleet Operators Urged to Go One Step Further in Avoiding Bridge Strikes

Jonathon Backhouse, director of specialist transport and logistics lawyers Backhouse Jones, has urged UK fleet operators to ensure they have protocols in place to mitigate the risk of bridge strikes following a recent spike in incidents.

In a recent presentation to road transport professionals, Jonathon focused on the implications of bridge strikes and how best to mitigate such incidents.

Jonathon Backhouse

With over 1900 bridge strikes occurring throughout the UK per year, Jonathon Backhouse revealed that the cost in train delays and repairs as a result of incidents totals £23m or £13,000 on average per strike and that on average around five bridge strikes occur nationally every single day.

After a recent series of bridge strikes across the country, Senior Traffic Commissioner Richard Turfitt wrote a letter reminding operators of their duty to take all practical steps to avoid such incidents.

Jonathon revealed that eight out of ten bridge strike incidents are largely caused by agency drivers and stressed the importance of ensuring that all drivers are educated on the company’s protocols and receive sufficient training and guidance on how to mitigate bridge strikes.

Geoff Cross

However, Geoff Cross, Managing Director of vehicle CCTV and telematics specialists Centrad believes fleet operators could go one step further. “The need to educate drivers on company protocols, using the correct applications and offering the appropriate training, is of course paramount in driving down bridge strike incidents.

“The vast majority of bridge strikes from HGVs are as a result of human error. These could range from a miscalculation of the dimensions of the bridge, taking a shortcut or simply being distracted.

“However, I believe fleet operators could mitigate the potential for bridge strikes even further – primarily through implementing cutting edge AI camera technology into their vehicles.

“Such products provide proactive real time alerts to fleet managers of any high-risk driving behaviour including mobile phone usage, distraction, smoking and driver fatigue. Equally, such systems also uses telematics to warn drivers when low bridges are ahead.

“Fleet operators could install a relatively simple LED system, which would be positioned on a vehicle’s dashboard, and their drivers would not only receive instant feedback regarding their overall driving behaviour, but the system will also use GPS vehicle location data and mapping to sound an in-cab alert if the vehicle is approaching a low bridge.

“The key advantage of using such a product as both a fleet operator and a driver, is if for any reason a low bridge is not included in the database, or the GPS signal drops, the technology will accurately read the upcoming low height warning sign and will measure the dimensions of the bridge.

“The importance of having protocols in place, as has been stressed by Jonathan Backhouse from Backhouse Jones, certainly should not be underestimated, but implementing cutting edge AI camera technology alongside such procedures will only serve to reduce the number of even further – ultimately reducing incidents and in turn saving lives, reducing unnecessary costs and avoiding any penalties.”