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One of the major issues all HGV drivers need to face is that of low bridges. Going underneath bridges is a regular occurrence for freight drivers, especially in the UK, and misjudging the height of either the bridge or your vehicle can result in disaster. Not only could this be bad news for you and your truck, but it could also endanger both your life and the lives of others. One lorry driver making his way along the M20 in Kent misjudged the height of a footbridge; hit it with the digger he was transporting, and brought the whole bridge crashing down.

A motorcyclist in his 70s was injured in the collapse and could easily have been killed, but managed to escape with broken ribs instead. The accident happened on one of the busiest days of the year for motorway driving, on the Saturday of August Bank Holiday weekend, when many families with small children were also on the roads, so it’s very fortunate that nobody was seriously hurt.

The motorway was closed for several hours, causing travel chaos as this is the main route to get to the Channel Tunnel and meaning many people’s holidays and other cross-channel journeys were affected as a result.

 

James Clifford: Expert Opinion

HGV Training’s founder James Clifford is regularly invited to speak about HGV driving safety in the media, including on TV. Only a couple of months ago James was asked by ITV to comment on the safety of a low bridge on London’s South Circular ring road. This particular bridge is a hotspot for these kinds of accidents, because it’s on a major route for HGV but is too low for 80% of lorries to pass underneath safely.

James said: “It’s designed at 4m 20cm, 80% of trucks are 4m 25cm or above, so actually only 20% of trucks in the UK can actually fit under one of the main roads in London. So I think you’ve got a real problem there just in terms of the road design in South London.”

So as you can see, it’s not always a good idea to assume that a bridge will be able to fit your HGV underneath, even if it seems like madness to exclude almost all HGVs from a particular route.

 

FTA Warning

The FTA is warning HGV drivers that they must always know the height of their vehicle, otherwise they could cause a serious accident.

At HGV Training we instil a great awareness of the problems with low bridges, ensuring that all drivers who undertake our HGV training programme have the skills and knowledge they need to be able to avoid hitting the headlines by hitting a bridge.

Bridges might be part of the problem, but so is alertness behind the wheel and attention to important details. These are two of the attributes we know our drivers have, and we only pass drivers who have got what it takes to drive safely; for their own sakes and for the safety of other road users and pedestrians.

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