Bridge Strikes & the Potential Consequences

What is a bridge strike?

A bridge strike is when a vehicle (or even the load it is carrying) collides with a bridge. Usually, this occurs where roads flow under railway bridges. It is for this reason Network Rail have been very active in raising awareness of this growing problem through various publications and their ‘wise up size up’ campaign.

If you are a transport operator or driver and you are involved in a collision with a railway bridge Network Rail may notify this to the Traffic Commissioner. The Traffic Commissioner may call both the transport operator and driver to a Public Inquiry in order to determine if they were in any way at fault for the bridge strike.. The driver should also be aware they may be called to a hearing which could result in the driver being suspended from driving for a period of time.

Consequences of bridge strikes

The obvious consequence that springs to mind is the significant risk posed to the driver or other occupants of the vehicle colliding with the bridge and the danger this can put other road users in.

But a bridge strike can also lead to significant delays to road and rail networks which can result in negative economic impacts for businesses affected by the delays, like Network Rail for example.

How you can avoid a bridge strike

Most bridge strikes can be prevented by the operator taking practical steps to avoid a collision or by training drivers so they can take steps to ensure a collision is avoided. As a starting point, Traffic Commissioners urge drivers, transport managers and operators to make use of the guidance on avoiding bridge strikes.

This detailed guidance covers:

  • Your legal obligations in relation to the maximum height of your vehicle and reporting traffic collisions.
  • Traffic signs indicating maximum permitted vehicle height
  • Actions to take before the journey
  • Actions to take during the journey
  • Actions to take if a bridge strike occurs
  • Consequences for passenger vehicle operators