I’m wracking my brain trying to think if there’s any really low bridges in Peterborough that could effectively work as a can opener if a large truck were to go through it, but I’m coming up blank. Maybe that one-lane train bridge on County Road 10 near Cavan could do that, but I’m not sure if that’s got low clearance or is just narrow.
No matter, though, because this one bridge in Durham, North Carolina has created enough accidents to last a lifetime, really. The railroad trestle was built over the road over 100 years ago, and at the time there weren’t really any standards for minimum clearance – and 11 feet 8 inches surely would’ve been adequate at the time to allow passage to any vehicle that would go through. However, in recent years so many people crashed into the bridge and damaged it that the railway company that maintains it ended up installing a steel crash beam right in front of it to stop the trucks before they actually hit the bridge… And they’ve also had to replace that crash bar once already. They’ve also installed all kinds of signage, warning lights and a brand new warning system, but none of them seem to have made much of an impact. You can read more about it at 11foot8.com, a website dedicated solely to crashes at this particular bridge.
Let’s start with a compilation of crashes from between 2008 and 2013:
You can see pretty early in that it does, in fact, work VERY well as a can opener.
Here’s another compilation of crashes from between 2013 and 2016:
A lot of these are moving trucks or rental trucks, as you can see, which would suggest that the majority of the drivers who have been victims of the bridge probably don’t have much experience driving a big truck. You look at it and ask “How could someone be so stupid to do that?” But in many cases, I would think it’s mostly ignorance. They’re not sure of the height of their rented truck (even though it’s usually clearly marked on the box), so they’re oblivious to the fact that they’re overheight and they continue right through… Until that crash beam stops them.
As entertaining as all of these videos are, I think my favourites might be the people pulling their giant camper trailers under the bridge… Because the trailers do generally fit under the bridge… except for the air conditioning units, which all seem to come flying off. And no, it doesn’t make it easier to get through if you drive real slow:
In May of this year, the Department of Transport installed a new warning system to try and reduce the number of overheight trucks that go under. The system automatically senses when an overheight truck is approaching, triggers a red light AND displays an overheight warning above the bridge… But apparently it still isn’t enough. Check out the new system in action, and the driver who seems oblivious to it all:
So what’s next? Someone on Reddit suggested one of these water curtains might be the next step… And it seems like a pretty cool system:
So if you’re ever renting a cube van or something like that, make sure you know its height! Most (if not ALL) rental trucks have a warning right on the box beside the driver’s door stating that any damage done to the truck above the cab is the responsibility of the driver – so most of the sorry folks in these videos had to pay for the damages out of pocket. So, know your height limit, and drive within it!