Commercial vehicles are restricted from parkways in New York due to the number of low bridges on these roads. When trucks find themselves on parkways they tend to strike the low bridges, causing damage to the truck, potential damage to the bridge, and worst of all, potential injuries. The issue of bridge strikes received national attention back in April when a bus accident on the Southern State Parkway injured dozens of people, mostly high schoolers. Bridge strikes are a frequent occurrence on the Hutchinson River Parkway, with Westchester County officials demanding answers. State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti believes the best course of action is to construct height barriers at the entrances of parkway. Assemblyman Abinanti’s solution is the correct one (though admittedly there are numerous logistical hurtles to go through), but until that happens, here are some helpful tips for trucking companies and drivers to avoid bridge strikes:
- NEVER use non-commercial GPS: Since Google is free, the temptation to use it is understandable but misguided. Non-commercial GPS does not factor in the difference between expressways and parkways and unintentionally leads drivers into trouble.
- Properly vet commercial GPS- Make sure it contains commercial vehicle specific information. Download all updates as they become available.
- Do not rely on GPS as the sole navigator- GPS works best as a trip planning tool. It should NOT be used as the sole navigation option. Drivers should look at maps before trips to better understand their routes.
- Drivers must familiarize themselves with any restrictions in the states they operate in (and New York has plenty) and pay attention to the road signs along their routes.
- Assume the worst- The mentality of “I can make it, there is enough room” must end. Assume you do not have enough room and will not make it. Always error on the side of caution.
NYC DOT recently unveiled new signage on the FDR Drive to help reduce bridge strikes. These signs are bigger, flashier, and easier to understand. These signs are a much-needed improvement but the fact that driving in the New York Metro region is such an ordeal means that often, companies must use drivers who are inexperienced and unfamiliar with the area. This increases the risk of bridge strikes happening. As such, fleet managers must take extra time to coach their drivers. This is a very fixable problem that needed to be fixed yesterday.