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From our HGV training in Ceredigion to our PCV classes in Norfolk, we are acutely aware of the fact that every commercial driver traversing UK roads is not a national. And because there are so many foreign drivers operating here, there are always questions about roads signing systems and how effective these are in warning foreign drivers about upcoming conditions. The Department for Transport (DfT) aims to address the situation through a proposed new signing system.

The DfT recently concluded one of the most comprehensive studies on road signage in more than 40 years. They are now in the consultation and planning stages of a dual signing system that would include both imperial and metric height, width, and length limits for UK bridges. The effort is partly in response to the high volume of accidents in the UK involving HGVs and bridges. In just the last 18 months alone, there have been 1,600 reported accidents.

The Freight Transport Association says younger nationals and foreign drivers face the biggest challenges with imperial measurements. They are more used to thinking metrically, and they may have a difficult time making quick conversions while approaching bridges at speed. This can lead to bridge strikes in the event of even a slight miscalculation.

Vehicles with a height in excess of three metres are already required to display an in-cab warning with height information in both Imperial and metric measurements. It is believed that this requirement, when combined with a dual signing system, could significantly reduce the number of bridge strikes. The only question that remains is how quickly the signing system will be implemented.

Current DfT proposals would allow signs to be replaced at the end of the normal life cycle. Some industry and road safety groups, including the FTA, want to see signs replaced right away.

Drivers to Heed Sign Warnings

The DfT’s proposal sounds an excellent one for reducing bridge strike accidents. We hope the details can be worked out sooner rather than later. In the meantime, it is imperative for drivers to heed sign warnings at all times, regardless of the measurements being used. It is far too often that we see warnings being ignored by drivers who think there is enough leeway for them to get by. Many of those drivers end up stuck under bridges or having the tops of their trucks ripped off.

Bridges and height restrictions are things we talk about in our HGV training in Ceredigion and throughout the UK. We broach such topics in an effort to make sure our students fully understand the implications of the size and weight of the vehicle they will be driving. We believe a fully informed driver is one that is better able to make wise decisions.

We will wait with anticipation to see how the DfT proposal eventually works out. If things go as planned, we could see a measurable reduction in the number of accidents in the UK involving bridge strikes.

Sources:

FTA – https://fta.co.uk/press-releases/20151006-fta-welcomes-new-dual-signing-for-low-bridges

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