I Hit A Bridge

Topic 19187 | Page 3

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Shiva's Comment
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but this attitude that the driver is "ALWAYS to blame " is complete BS

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When a driver hits a bridge the driver is 100% to blame.

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When do the companies accept fault?

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When a driver hits a bridge the companies never have to accept any fault.

I don't know how to be anymore clear about that. There are no gray areas. You do not drive your truck into a bridge and there is never a reason why it's ok, nor is it anyone else's fault. I understand we all make mistakes so I'm not saying it's not ok that mistakes are made but I am saying it is not ok to place blame elsewhere.

Trucking is not a job anyone should be doing if they aren't ready to assume 100% of the responsibility for their vehicle. Knit quilts if you want to screw up and point fingers. No one cares if yarn unravels. Don't run 80,000 pound big rigs into gigantic steel structures and then start pointing fingers. Unacceptable in my book.

Brett, I'm not pointing fingers but I disagree. MERICA

Ryan R.'s Comment
member avatar

Brett,

There are, "mistakes" that a fully functioning human being shouldn't make if they are applying themselves properly. We will all make them in some manner, but we generally accept that doing so is our own fault. We could do better, we knew better, etc.

Then there are, "mistakes" that a fully functioning human can be expected to make because it is not in the scope of their capacity. Judging bridge heights at road speeds is easily one of them. Unless truck drivers are expected to drive up to every single bridge, stop and check their clearance, or idiots stop building bridges too low for legal vehicles (including accounting for repaving of roads that any engineer with two brain cells should do), this sort of thing is going to predictably happen again and again.

In the case of Errol's bridge, with that posted clearance, I probably would actually stop at the bridge completely, turn my hazard lights on, and slowly inch towards it while checking my clearance - getting in and out over and over. Doing so, I risk getting rear ended or hit by another car. Hey, I might get killed, but at least I won't be blamed right?

Yes, I'll do trip planning, but there are still going to be the poor souls that do trip planning and still manage to be the first to find a bridge or power line some idiot built too low, that just got raised at that critical point from some road work. Of course, that road work can be a clue to be more careful, so lets just hope all truck drivers are super geniuses tuned into every clue around them while traveling 55+ MPH. Yes, plenty of truck drivers don't hit a bridge, and proper planning reduces their chances, but that doesn't mean they couldn't potentially hit one if bad luck strikes.

Worse than that is power lines in the dark.

I was actually thinking about this earlier. Why not put a thin, fragile bar on the top of the cab of the truck that extends slightly above the height of the trailer, which sets off an alarm if broken? It could be done to add minuscule amounts of wind resistance, and break before causing damage to most structures.

Ryan R.'s Comment
member avatar

Or better yet, just some small sensor at the top of the trailers?

We need solutions instead of blaming people that have literally been setup for it to happen to them.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Brett, I'm not pointing fingers but I disagree. MERICA

Well then you go ahead and "fight the good fight" if you feel that defending your right to run into steel structures while blaming others is somehow going to help you. It isn't my time you're wasting.

that doesn't mean they couldn't potentially hit one if bad luck strikes.

We talk endlessly about taking personal responsibility in this industry. Certain trades demand a much higher level of personal responsibility than others - firemen, police officers, military, handling explosives, logging, commercial fishing, and many others. If you think hitting a bridge is bad luck or it's someone else's fault then you need to find a desk job or become a politician before you kill yourself or someone else.

Is anyone here aware of any bridges out there that are low bridges but are not listed in the Rand McNally Motor Carrier's Atlas?

And do you guys have any idea how many low bridges there used to be in Chicago back in the day? The list in the Atlas was several columns long back when I started driving. I drove Chicago more than any city in the country during my career and I never hit any bridges. Never hit anything for that matter.

Some people get the job done and don't make excuses, place blame, or shun their responsibilities. I didn't have the luxury of cell phones or GPS or Qualcomm or any of that when I started driving. I had a Rand McNally Atlas, a pen, and a notepad and I figured it out just fine.

In fact, I live in New York State where the overwhelming majority of our bridges are purposely marked wrong. Some were updated with actual height, others were not. And yet I still never hit a bridge or planned on blaming anyone else if I had.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.
Ryan R.'s Comment
member avatar

Brett,

Do you deny the existence of all of the various categories of people you just listed being put in situations out of their ability to accurately make the right decision? Because that's utter nonsense if so. Experts in some of the fields you listed acknowledge it plainly. I've even worked in one of them.

People that get stuff done don't need to burden themselves with petty things like blame. They need to try their best, and the best they can do is acknowledge when something is not totally within their control. There will always be fools willing to strap themselves to a missile without fins, and take the responsibility of guiding it at a precise target, perhaps even with utter conviction in their ability to do it.

I believe you are probably smarter than most people, and perhaps your particular talents have suited you well as a truck driver, but that doesn't mean it's the case for most of humanity, or that it's out of the realms of a possibility that you could potentially make such a mistake. In the end, you didn't hit a bridge before you quit driving, and congrats to you.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Ryan you have an incredible amount of passion about this particular subject.

I too had a high degree of fear of hitting low bridges when I first started. Had nightmares about it. At least the region I drive through, "they" are everywhere. Google a town called Taylor PA...and virtually any urban town in North Jersey (Garfield comes to mind) and Deleware County southwest of Philadelphia (Essington and Glenolden). As a result my initial preparation was relentless until I learned the routes. Even now I am hyper-focused in these areas. Any unexpected detour will be a problem because there is only one unobstructed store delivery route in many locations (like Taylor).

I know three drivers who had the unfortunate experience of running into/under a low overpass. I am well aware of each location, as were they. At least in our case, we are emphatically warned in a seperate QC message of the presence of low overpasses on the dispatched route. In a few cases like Taylor we receive a seperate hard copy warning attached to the trip sheets. It's very clear and explicit NOT to go out of route or risk encountering one of these bridges.

Two of the drivers I mentioned admitted they made a wrong turn and proceeded on a road clearly marked "no trucks". Why? Momentary lack of attention and focus? Who really knows. The other driver, he hit an arched overpass and wasn't aware that he needed to slowdown and take this overpass "down the middle" with four-ways on. The lack of awareness was due to not reading the dispatch instructions or heeding ample signage warning of the bridge. Again...why? Are you saying those three drivers are not responsible for hitting these?

Preparation and vigilance can and will prevent the vast majority of overpass crashes. There are very, very few exceptions. Anywhere in the northeast and obviously Chicago requires extra precaution and preparation. New York metro including North Jersey is also littered with overpass issues, to the extent a trucker needs to be in a specific lane to clear some of these overpasses. All of these issues are listed in the Truckers Atlas. As we have read, many drivers do not use this tool and others don't even own one. Reliance on electronics to ensure safe passage is blind faith and perhaps the root cause of most bridge encounters.

Agreed it's a problem that has existed in some of these older cities for 100+ years. The common denominator is railroads. They predate any modern highway built in the older cities. To further complicate things most of the modern, finished roads in these cities were built long before 13'6" was the de facto box trailer height. That changed in the sixties. Regardless a truck driver must adequately prepare to avoid an encounter.

That said, this problem doesn't exist on the Interstates and any truck route listed in the Truckers Atlas. Restricted routes are clearly listed in the Atlas. Very few exceptions on the truck routes (as Rainy called out in Joliet). I purchase a new one every other year. Consider it an investment and a tax deduction.

If you approach your preparation to prevent running under a low bridge with the same level of passion and verve as you have exhibited in this thread, you will never need to worry about accountability for this mistake. Point being 99.99% of these accidents are highly preventable with basic preparation. Avoid the prep work, and the risk increases.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

Guys... Remember Ryan hasn't driven yet. So perhaps he doesn't realize that you don't need a sensor.

Ryan from someone who has driven under 13 6 bridges, I can tell you that you KNOW that bridge is low. You can see it. At 13 6 in my rig it feels way way too low and I drive with hazards straddling the lane and at 5mph. Sometimes the shoulders are lower than the center so best to try to stay towards the middle.

Also, understand these bridges are usually in local areas, not interstates or major highways so 55mph and boom..hit a bridge is not probable. Its more like 25-40 mph where you slowly approach it. After driving under plenty of clearable bridge you visually notice one that is much lower.

But as G Town said. Drive a restricted route like Garden State Parkway in NJ, and yeah I guess you would go boom.

There is a low bridge where I live near the Gloucester City ports in Brooklawn and at least once a month a truck hits the clearly marked 12 something bridge.

I have wondered though since truck clearance differ, whether or not a driver who switched from tanker with say an 11 5 clearance is now driving a reefer might do something like that. Just out of habit.

Interstate:

Commercial trade, business, movement of goods or money, or transportation from one state to another, regulated by the Federal Department Of Transportation (DOT).

Reefer:

A refrigerated trailer.

Shiva's Comment
member avatar

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Brett, I'm not pointing fingers but I disagree. MERICA

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Well then you go ahead and "fight the good fight" if you feel that defending your right to run into steel structures while blaming others is somehow going to help you. It isn't my time you're wasting.

double-quotes-start.png

that doesn't mean they couldn't potentially hit one if bad luck strikes.

double-quotes-end.png

We talk endlessly about taking personal responsibility in this industry. Certain trades demand a much higher level of personal responsibility than others - firemen, police officers, military, handling explosives, logging, commercial fishing, and many others. If you think hitting a bridge is bad luck or it's someone else's fault then you need to find a desk job or become a politician before you kill yourself or someone else.

Is anyone here aware of any bridges out there that are low bridges but are not listed in the Rand McNally Motor Carrier's Atlas?

And do you guys have any idea how many low bridges there used to be in Chicago back in the day? The list in the Atlas was several columns long back when I started driving. I drove Chicago more than any city in the country during my career and I never hit any bridges. Never hit anything for that matter.

Some people get the job done and don't make excuses, place blame, or shun their responsibilities. I didn't have the luxury of cell phones or GPS or Qualcomm or any of that when I started driving. I had a Rand McNally Atlas, a pen, and a notepad and I figured it out just fine.

In fact, I live in New York State where the overwhelming majority of our bridges are purposely marked wrong. Some were updated with actual height, others were not. And yet I still never hit a bridge or planned on blaming anyone else if I had.

Brett, good for you. Your website has been extremely helpful and thank you for creating it. However, I do disagree with some of your philosophies. 1 being that we are 110% accountable. I agree witho 99% on that. But given the times we're in, where technology is threatening to take our jobs, they put speed limiters, cams on the trucks, navigation (GPS systems) on our trucks. How could the company not consider to be a little accountable. The bridge is unmarked( county or city should be accountable for that), if the road was repaved (the construction company) is somewhat accountable. If there were no signs indicating that it was a no truck route(again, city or county) is somewhat liable. Rand McNally is not 100% accurate. It may have a low bridge listed, but if your not sure which way you have to turn once you get off the highway, I would hope there are signs that would indicate a restricted truck route.

Qualcomm:

Omnitracs (a.k.a. Qualcomm) is a satellite-based messaging system with built-in GPS capabilities built by Qualcomm. It has a small computer screen and keyboard and is tied into the truck’s computer. It allows trucking companies to track where the driver is at, monitor the truck, and send and receive messages with the driver – similar to email.
Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

17904437_1348167358598926_22179529650836

Least yer not THIS GUY...

Rick

Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar

Though this might work...

17952521_10208540970787820_5227300161735

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