This bridge is starting to take it personally…give it some Pie

Oct 27, 2017

Apparently once is a mistake, twice is a decision and three times is a habit. Based on the fact that over 100 HGV drivers have crashed into the country’s ‘most bashed bridge’ 113 times since 2009 it does appear to have become a bit of a habit for some.

Stuntney Road Bridge in Ely, Cambridgeshire has been awarded this unfortunate title as it has been hit, on average, once a month since 2009.

Now whilst we all have a little snigger at the images shown in the media confidently berating the driver for his lack of anything sensible, as we all know, there is a serious side to this. Not least the £23 million such incidents cost the tax payer every year. Collisions with the Ely bridge alone have cost £109,000 in the past five years.

The average bridge strike also delays rail passengers by two hours not to mention the delays caused to the traffic.

This particular bridge incident was the topic of a discussion on the Jeremy Vine @theJeremyVine programme on BBC Radio 2 this week and one of the questions posed was why don’t HGV drivers know that the vehicle they are driving is too low for this unfortunate structure?

Well according to research conducted by Network Rail 43% of lorry drivers don’t know the height of their own vehicle!

So what is the answer? One suggestion put forwards by the Network Rail spokesperson was to erect a big metal bar in front of the bridge. So essentially the drivers unaware of their vehicle height would simply crash into the metal bar instead of the bridge. Protecting the bridge from damage, railway passengers from delays and other road users from related traffic issues…the vehicle would, however, still have a metal bar shaped dent in it!

Another caller to the Show suggested that a laser beam could be put in front of such bridges and if a vehicle that was too high for the bridge attempted to approach an alarm would sound.

Now whilst I am all for James Bond’esque gadgets it doesn’t take much on an internal brainstorm to conclude the barriers (excuse the non-intentional pun!) of that one.

In a digital world it is interesting that technology wasn’t really discussed as being an option. One caller did admittedly mention ‘sat navs’ but the link wasn’t really made or followed through. The reality is that satellite navigation systems, sat navs, assume everyone is driving a car. No consideration is made for the height or size of vehicles and, therefore, the route suggested is simply based on the quickest / shortest option. Hence the reason HGV drivers are advised to travel under too low bridges or down single track country lanes.

For this very reason the Local Government Association has called for a ban on the use of (car) sat nav systems by lorries and stated that they should, instead, only use devices suitable for HGVs. The issue with that is that an HGV sat nav doesn’t exist. Or does it?

At Pie we have connected planning, routing and tracking on one platform to provide an efficient holistic fleet management solution designed to connect business workflow, drive efficiencies and lower costs.

Sitting within this solution is Pie Drive which is a rather clever app (even if we do say so ourselves!) Amongst other jolly useful things it provides the driver with a route that has taken into account the fact the vehicle they are driving is considerably larger than your standard car.

So no more hit bridges and no more getting stuck down lanes which also means no more having the social media world snigger at your misfortune!

Now wasn’t that easy to sort out!

Image from The Wisbech Standard

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