On average, there are about 200 bridge strikes—incidents in which a truck collides with a bridge—every year in New York. Bridge strikes put drivers and other motorists at risk of injury, cause traffic disruptions, and can require expensive repairs to the bridge that gets struck. Since 2015, according to officials, there have been over 1,100 bridge strikes in the state. That’s why Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced an “enforcement and education campaign” to combat bridge strikes.
The campaign, a joint effort between the state Department of Transportation, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, and the State Police, took place between November 9th and November 15th. It involved state troopers monitoring areas “where there have been documented bridge strikes by large commercial vehicles.”
Strikes involving large commercial vehicles typically take place on state parkways and roads with “low railroad bridges.” The Governor’s Office notes that while commercial trucks are not permitted to drive on state parkways, drivers using consumer GPS systems sometimes get directed onto parkways, “and when that occurs a bridge strike is inevitable,” because consumer GPS systems aren’t equipped with information regarding low bridges.
The enforcement and educational effort also included the creation of educational materials and their distribution in rest areas, Department of Motor Vehicle offices, and rental facilities. The materials, which include “a tip card and other materials… about the hazards of low bridges and how to avoid them,” remind drivers that they’re not permitted on state parkways, and that they should use commercial-grade GPS systems that include information about low bridges.
In a statement published by Governor Cuomo’s office, Keith Corlett, Superintendent of the New York State Police, said: “Bridge strikes continue to be a problem across the state, endangering the safety of motorists, disputing traffic and causing damage. These targeted patrols are part of an effort with our partners at DOT and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to raise awareness about this issue and reduce and eventually eliminate bridge strikes statewide.”
Marie Therese Dominguez, Commissioner of the New York Department fo Transportation, added: “Bridge strikes pose a danger to everyone who uses our highways and they cause unnecessary delays to countless numbers drivers who get stuck in traffic because of them. The Department of Transportation is proud to join with the State Police and our other partners in government in this important initiative that will hopefully keep trucks off roads where they don’t belong and make our highways safer for everyone.”
And Mark J.F. Schroeder, Chairman of the GTSC, said: Bridge strikes not only tie up traffic and damage vehicles, but they can also compromise the safety of our infrastructure. We support the efforts of our partners in law enforcement and at DOT and are committed to educating drivers about how to safely navigate New York’s bridges and tunnels.”