A successful safety campaign first used four years ago is being activated again by the NZ Transport Agency’s Auckland Motorway Alliance (AMA) to try to cut the number of bridge strikes across the city’s motorway network.
“Bridge strikes should never happen. They can easily be avoided with proper care and attention,” says Auckland Motorway Alliance Director, Tony Fisher. “Regretably, the number of strikes is rising and it’s necessary to ask truck drivers and operators again to measure up to stay safe.”
Mr Fisher says after the first “check your height” campaign in 2009, there were 11 bridge strikes on the motorway network in the 26 months between December 2009 and February 2012. In the 20 months since February 2012, there have been 15 strikes.
One of the worst occured last June, when a truck carrying two snowploughs hit the Greenlane interchange bridge on the Southern Motorway (State Highway 1) during a Friday afternoon peak hour, causing severe congestion. The crash also struck a pedestrian overbridge at the interchange, regularly used by pedestrians and school children, but fortunately did not cause serious damage.
“Any bridge strike on a high speed network as busy as Auckland’s is dangerous, and a frustrating and time-wasting inconvenience,” Mr Fisher says.
The maximum height for any vehicle travelling on the motorway network is 4.25m. Special permission for limited travel is available from the NZ Transport Agency. Machinery with arms and buckets, such as diggers, may move during transport so drivers are urged to check their loads when they stop for a rest.
“We are now seeking the same support and co-operation from the trucking industry that we received in 2009. We’re reminding drivers to please check their height and ensure their load is secure before they travel on our motorways. Not doing so endangers the safety of themselves and others, and there’s a financial costs for the damage as well,” Mr Fisher says.
Every year approximately $300,000 is spent repairing the damage caused by bridge strikes. Open topped container trucks with over height bloads, truck-mounted hydraulic cranes, such as those that lift large containers, and diggers with an arm and bucket are the most likely to hit a motorway bridge.
The renewed awareness campaign is being rolled out, starting with billboards at entrances to the motorway network. The AMA is also working with the Heavy Haulage Association and National Road Carriers who are actively supporting the campaign, to help spread the word amongst staff of large trucking companies.