Truck accidents happen for many reasons. Drivers who violate traffic laws or drive while distracted deserve to be held accountable. Trucking companies that place profit before safety must be held responsible. Truck parts manufacturers who make and install defective products should be held liable.
The counties and the state of Tennessee may also be at fault if they fail to design safe traffic routes and highways.
One common danger for truck drivers is that the bridges and overpasses aren’t built with enough clearance. The Tennessee Department of Transportation, local counties, and construction companies that build bridges and overpasses should understand how to build these structures so that even fully loaded tall trucks can pass through safely – without having the top of the truck or load crash into the structure.
Truck drivers and trucking companies should know what clearance levels they need for their truck and their load. If the bride or overpass is too low, there are strategies they can use to avoid the collision with the bridge/overpass.
What is a bridge strike?
Truck accidents in and near Memphis and Jackson may be due to the truck or load coming into contact with a bridge or overpass. A bridge strike collision can:
- Cause the truck to roll over or jackknife, causing the truck and its cargo to spread across the highway.
- Cause the truck to come to a complete stop, which can cause multi-vehicle collisions as nearby cars and trucks try to avoid the stuck truck.
- Cause the cargo from the truck to spill onto the highway, creating a nightmare scenario as all other drivers try to avoid the spill or run over the spill.
When a bridge strike happens; the drivers and passengers of all vehicles on the bottom of the overpass may be seriously injured or killed. Any vehicles, pedestrians, or bicycle riders on top of the bridge or overpass may also be in danger, if the structure crumbles or gives way. In addition, the debris from the collision can fall onto the highway, causing even more injuries and deaths.
- Many states and cities are using “infrared sensors and lasers that detect tall vehicles and warn drivers to turn around or take another route.”
- Traffic delays, even when nobody is hurt can snarl traffic for 16 hours or more. The repair costs can be upwards of a million dollars.
- In Texas, for example, officials are using “over-height warning systems [that] use LED beams and flashing lights.” (The state reported about 100 bridge strikes in 2018.)
Part of the problem, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), is the use of GPS systems that are designed for passenger cars – but don’t display low bridge overpasses. Better GPS systems should direct truckers to different roads.
How can truck drivers and companies take to avoid bride strike collisions?
The FMCSA states, “Bridge strikes are avoidable through better awareness of route restrictions along travel paths gained by paying closer attention to road signs and by the use of only those electronic navigation systems intended for trucks and buses.”
Avoidance strategies include:
- Route preparation. These days, truck drivers and companies should be able to use satellite navigation systems, GPS systems designed for commercial trucks, and prior experience traveling the same roads – to know the vehicle height limits of all the bridges and overpasses on their route. The truck drivers and companies should also know the height of their trucks and truck loads. If there is a mismatch – the truck is likely to collide with a bridge or overpass – the driver should plan a different route to avoid the bridge strike.
- Altering the load. In some cases, truck drivers and companies can avoid a bridge strike by ensuring that the load isn’t too high and that the load does not shift as the truck is moving.
- Being ready for detours. Some trucks need to change routes due to detours, construction work, and other reasons. If a driver changes routes, the driver should work with the trucking companies that hired them or control the shipment to check for possible bridge strike dangers ahead.
Drivers should also drive slowly enough to read any road signs that indicate their truck may be in danger of a bridge strike.
Who is liable for a bridge strike accident?
At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, our Memphis truck accident lawyers are skilled at determining how truck accidents happen and who is responsible. When a bridge strike happens, we work with investigators and the local police to determine the specific height of the bridge/overpass, the height of the truckload, the rules and regulations that govern bridge and overpass construction, and the safety checks the driver performed.
The defendants in a bridge strike truck accident may include:
- The truck driver who failed to use a different route, failed to check for height limits, drove while distracted, or was negligent in other ways.
- The trucking company that failed to work with the truck driver to examine the clearance dangers, failed to load the truck according to height restrictions, or was negligent in other ways.
- The Tennessee Department of Transportation or local counties for failing to design bridges and overpasses in accordance with the known standard heights of commercial trucks.
- Any bridge construction or overpass companies that failed to construct or repair the bridges or overpasses in accordance with state regulations or industry standards.
At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, our Memphis truck accident lawyers represent drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicycle riders when bridge strike accidents happen. We also represent families when a spouse, child, or parent dies due to a clearance accident. Our team is respected for our record of success trying personal injury cases in court and settling claims for strong results with the insurance companies.
We demand compensation for all your economic damages, your pain and suffering, and other damages such as scarring and disfigurement. To arrange a free consultation at one of our offices in Memphis or Jackson, please call us at 901-475-7434 or use our contact form. We have been fighting for personal injury victims for more than 35 years. We represent accident victims and families on a contingency fee basis.
As founder of Bailey & Greer, R. Sadler Bailey has battled his fair share of insurance giants and wrongdoers and has achieved numerous multimillion-dollar results for the victims of catastrophic injuries and their families. What’s more, he has been involved in more than 40 appellate court decisions affecting Tennessee personal injury law, including many landmark appearances before the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Read more about R. Sadler Bailey