Bridge Strikes

In a letter from the Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain:

To all goods vehicle and PSV operator licence holders

I am writing to remind you of your obligations as a responsible operator of large vehicles.

This message is important, and you should ensure that it is understood and communicated to your workforce as appropriate. It is incumbent upon any operator to ensure that your vehicles are operated without unacceptable risks to road safety. These risks include the need to prevent bridge strikes, which bring with them potentially serious consequences as well as avoidable costs in terms of checking and repair, and delays to rail services and other road users. The risk from bridge strikes is not a new issue for the commercial vehicle industries.  

Regulatory action is a real possibility for those operators who fail to take appropriate control measures to prevent bridge strikes, as well as for the drivers involved.  

As part of these control measures operators should:

• assess the risks and ensure that routes are planned in advance, so far as is reasonably practicable

• ensure that drivers, transport managers and planners are properly trained to enable them to assess the risks 

• ensure that drivers are be provided with adequate information including about the vehicles which they are driving.   In providing information that allows anyone planning or altering a route, operators should consider how to:

• ensure that drivers have access to height conversion charts • ensure that sites have height measurement gauges

• ensure that each vehicle and trailer in the fleet has an established running height on its technical record 

• ensure that running heights are available to anyone planning a route including drivers who encounter unexpected or unmapped obstructions, such as temporary works. 

There is guidance already available for operators that will assist in your planning and should be referred to:   https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prevention-of-bridge-strikes-good-practice-guide

Taking the time now to ensure that you have appropriate control measures in place will save you from the potential costs of regulatory action being taken by a traffic commissioner which could result in the loss of the operator’s licence or other actions that would impact upon your business.

And, in a recent case brought before the Traffic Commissioner:

Article 6 of Regulation (EC) No 1071/2009. 

“Having carefully considered all of the evidence in this case, after having first heard from the driver and his admissions to me (in particular that he had had the Network Rail bridge strike training from his former employer) I was satisfied that whilst this operator’s bridge strike knowledge and driver training was not as good as it should have been before the incident on 27 October 2022 what was done subsequently was to be commended and left me satisfied that an incident like this would not happen again.

As a result, I determined that the proportionate outcome was to not take regulatory action against the operator or the transport manager but instead to issue a formal warning to both. 

Traffic Commissioner 03 January 2024.”

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