How to Watch For and Avoid Low Clearance Bridges and Overpasses

It is critical for drivers to maintain awareness at all times of approaching bridges or overpasses. One bridge taken for granted can cause major damage to equipment, freight and possibly a driver’s health.  Even though a sign states low bridge or low clearance and the height, it may not always be correct. It is important to always make cautious decisions as a driver. When dealing with bridges and overpasses, following these tips will prevent damage to the bridge, your truck, your driving record and will help keep you safe.

Know Your Trailer: You should know well before you approach a bridge whether or not your truck has the clearance to do so safely. Always take the time to learn your total tractor and trailer height prior to departing.

Tall Trailers: Some trailers that are too tall will actually trip a laser beam triggering a flashing light that will warn the driver to stop immediately and a phone number to contact getting turned around. This technology is unique, but it is also scarce and cannot be relied upon for every day travel.

Over-height Trailers and Low Clearances: A bridge or overpass may not be considered a “low clearance” for a truck of standard height, but it will be if you are driving a higher profile vehicle.

Ensure Proper Routing: If you have a GPS make sure it is updated, but don’t rely on it unless you want to risk potentially getting stuck under a bridge. If you are driving to an area that is known for its low clearances, then make sure you have accurate directions from a dispatcher.

Communicate With Dispatch: Communicate with your dispatch team if you are unsure if your trailer will fit under a bridge or if there is construction going on and you have to take an alternate route that has a bridge.

Plan Ahead: Know how to get in and out of areas with low clearance bridges and overpasses. Low clearance problems can occur around buildings, docks and construction locations as well. Be aware not only of the building but also anything protruding from it.

Winter Weather: During the winter, snow and ice can accumulate on the roads and shorten the clearance under overpasses. Contact the DOT of the state in which you are driving to determine any trouble spots.

Warning Signs: Signs are not something to look past or take for granted.  Don’t assume that your tractor trailer will fit under the bridge if you know there is a low clearance. Obey the signs of the road to prevent something from happening.

Thanks for reading!

If you have any tips about approaching or avoiding low clearance bridges or overpasses let us know in the comment section below!

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