Officials Hope Laser-Light System Will Prevent Bridge Strikes

GPS units for truck drivers.

 
The Worcester County Telegram-Gazette reports that at least twice a week, truck drivers say that their GPS units routed them to the railroad bridge overpass on East Main Street (Route 30) in Westboro, Massachusetts.

The railroad bridge is generously adorned with signs that declare the bridge’s clearance of 12’6″. Despite that, many truck drivers, who are blindly trusting their GPS, attempt to pass under the bridge.

Bridge strikes have become such an issue; the city is looking into installing high-tech warning systems that will alert drivers they’re approaching a bridge with low clearance.

According to the Telegram-Gazette, the city is considering installing a solar-powered laser warning system that would measure a truck’s height and warn the driver that his or her truck is too tall to clear the bridge, before it’s too late.

Here’s how it works: a laser system will be set at the desired clearance. When a truck passes, and if the truck’s height hits the laser beam, two signs will begin flashing to alert the driver that the truck is too high to pass under the bridge.

A similar system will soon be in place at select bridges in New York.

According to a press release from New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s office, construction is almost complete on a project that will use an infrared system to detect over-height vehicles. The systems will be used at three entrances to the Northern State Parkway in Long Island and will be expanded to include locations on the Southern State Parkway and parkways in New York City and Westchester County.

The over-height vehicle detection systems utilizes infrared beams to detect over-height vehicles that illegally enter the parkway rams. Over-height vehicles will trigger “large, vibrant electronic message signs” that will alert drivers to pull over and call New York State Police for assistance. In addition, the system will send an automatic alert to NYSDOT’s INFORM Traffic Management Center, where the State Police will be notified. The systems also include cameras that will allow INFORM to monitor each detection system.

“With this innovative technology, New York State is enhancing traffic safety, protecting our highway infrastructure and helping to save lives,” Governor Cuomo said. “Accidents involving over-height vehicles and our bridges are dangerous and can cause significant disruption to other drivers, which is why our administration is getting out in front of the problem with this new detection system. We will continue to work with local governments, truckers, GPS providers and law enforcement to stop bridge strikes and make our roads safer for everyone who travels them.”

Source: TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF