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Beware the bridge: truck accidents and dangerous road conditions

Nov 7, 2012 - Truck Accidents by

When most people think of truck accidents, they probably think of accidents caused by driver fatigue, overloaded trucks or some other safety concern. After all, that’s why and federal regulators work so hard to enforce hours-of-service limitations on drivers and other rules designed to prevent truck accidents in Charlotte and across the country.

Sometimes, however, trucks themselves are on the receiving end of poor safety conditions. There are certain roads and bridges, for example, that are so poorly designed or maintained that “accidents” occur there far too frequently.

One such road condition is right here in North Carolina. At an underpass in Durham, the railroad trestle is less than 12 feet tall. To be completely precise, it is 11 feet, 8 inches. Though numerous signs warn of this, it is all too easy to miss them. After all, drivers don’t really expect, in this day and age, to encounter a bridge that’s simply not tall enough.

A local videographer has documented repeated instances of trucks that aren’t all that tall getting their tops shaved off as they try to pass beneath the bridge. It’s out there on You Tube for the world to see.

Why does such a clearly inadequate bridge still exist? Of course, when it was built about 100 years ago, standards on minimum clearance did not yet exist. But this is a different time, when society is rightly concerned about evolving safety standards.

The owner of the bridge, Norfolk Southern Railroad, has installed a crash beam to protect its property. But that obviously does not protect vehicles, with their drivers and passengers, who are attempting to pass under the bridge.

City officials say that in addition to “low clearance” signs, they have lowered the speed limit near the trestle. But is that really enough, especially if accidents keep happening?

Source: “Durham’s Bridge of Death Will Decapitate Any Tall Truck,” The Atlantic Cities, John Metcalfe, 10-25-12