HGV size really does matter – don’t get stuck under a bridge

Three lorries have got stuck under a bridge in less than a month in the tiny Hertfordshire hamlet of Hunton Bridge, causing havoc for commuters and road users.

It seems the cocktail of high lorries and low bridges is a recipe for disaster on unfamiliar country roads especially – the risk of getting stuck under a bridge all too evident.

stuck under a bridge

Know your height or risk getting stuck under a bridge

The low bridge in question in Hertfordshire is maintained by Network Rail and a company spokesman said: “The bridge has clear warning signage and we can’t stress enough how important it is drivers know the height and width of their vehicles and pay close attention to warning signs at bridges.

“If you’re not sure whether your vehicle will fit, you should look for an alternative route rather than taking a risk.”

But it seems this bridge is the tip of the iceberg regards bridge strikes by lorries over the rail network.

The railway suffers almost 2,000 bridge strikes every year costing the taxpayer some £23m in damages and delays.

October is worst month for bridge strikes

The worst month for bridge strikes is October after the clocks go back, evenings get darker earlier, and domestic deliveries begin to increase in the run up to Christmas.

Bridge strikes can cause hours of travel chaos both on the blocked road below and on the railway line above.

After being instructed of a bridge strike Network Rail structural engineers visit the site to assess the damage.

Trains will likely be suspended or proceed on an enforced go slow. This plays havoc with train network timetables and can inconvenience thousands of commuters.

stuck under a bridge

Network Rail campaign targets HGV drivers

Network Rail has been running a campaign to make HGV drivers more aware of the size of their vehicles and the potential hazards presented by low bridges.

The rail company’s research shows:

  • 43% of lorry drivers admit to not knowing the size of their vehicle
  • 52% of drivers admit to not taking low bridges into account when planning their journeys
  • Five bridge strikes happen across the country every day – with a peak of 10/day in October
  • On average, each bridge strike costs £13,500 and causes two hours of delays to train services.
Careless pro drivers are risking life and limb

A Network Road spokesman said: “Size does matter when you’re a professional driver in a heavy vehicle. Not knowing the size of your vehicle or load could lead to a serious accident, and the loss of your licence.

“Every incident creates potential delay for tens of thousands of passengers and potential costs for taxpayers, and this is happening multiple times a day.

“It’s only a matter of time before road or rail users are killed as a result of this carelessness.”

Being hit and blocked three times in a month is quite some record for bridge 69 at Hunton Bridge. But it’s by no means the rail network’s most prolific bridge when it comes to strikes.

stuck under a bridge

Bridge in Ely the most prolific for bridge strikes

That honour falls on Stuntney Road bridge in Ely, Cambridgeshire, which has been hit 113 times since 2009.

Kenworthy Road bridge in Homerton comes a close second with 99 strikes and third comes a bridge on Thurlow Park Road in Tulse Hill which has been his  92 times in the same period.

So there, you go, for lorry drivers size does really matter, but so too does the right HGV insurance policy.

Whether you are an owner-operator, or have a sizeable fleet, Adrian Flux can provide an HGV insurance policy tailored to your precise needs at a value for money price.