The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is using a new high-tech warning system to prevent trucks and buses from crashing into bridges and overpasses that are not high enough to accommodate the vehicle, reported Time Warner Cable News.

The new warning system will detect the heights of vehicles approaching Durham’s railroad bridge in Brightleaf Square. When an overheight vehicle is detected, the upcoming traffic light will turn red and an overhead warning sign will be activated.  NCDOT representative John Sandor explained to NBC News that when drivers are forced to stop at the red light they’ll see the sign lit up telling them that their vehicle is over height at that they must make a turn.

This particular overpass — nicknamed the can opener bridge– has hit by more than 100 trucks and other large vehicles since 2008, according to NBC News.  Previous attempt to prevent truck accidents at the can opener bridge included, signs, flashing lights and a steel bar barrier to prevent trucks from crashing into the actual bridge

The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) announced in January that it was also installing a high-tech alert system to detect and warn trucks traveling along I-35 in Austin that are  too tall for upcoming bridges. The Texas system will also then send command messages to roadway signs with flashing beacon to alert the drivers that their vehicle will not clear the upcoming overpass.  In addition, a message will be sent to TXDOT’s traffic management center and the Department of Motor Vehicles to alert them of a potential truck collision, should the driver fail to follow the warnings.

Lee Gardner owns a Penske Corp. truck rental business in Durham, N.C.  He told NBC that drivers who crash into the can opener bridge are often following the directions of their GPS.  However, they are not using the appropriate GPS.  Many truck drivers rely on the same GPS to calculate the same route that would be used for the average car, rather than a navigation system specifically designed for trucks and larger vehicles.

This problem is not limited to truck drivers. Bus drivers who fail to use the correct GPS are also at risk of crashing into a low clearance bridge.  This can be a more serious problem, as passengers on board are at risk for sustaining serious injuries if a  bus accident occurs.

Jonathan Ostroff

Posted by Jonathan Ostroff

Jon Ostroff is the founder and named partner at Ostroff Injury Law, a personal injury law firm assisting people facing serious injuries due to a vehicle accidents, medical malpractice and product liability.