In the sleepy town of Delaware, right in the heart of the state of Ohio, there are a number of low overpasses that passenger cars and vans pass underneath without issue every day. The same overpasses are not suitable for 18 wheelers, big box trucks, and oversized buses. And yet the drivers of such vehicles try to navigate them anyway, to their own detriment.
It is not as though they are not warned. Each of the overpasses is visibly marked with signs as required by law. Along the side of the road leading to each overpass are a series of signs warning drivers of the height restrictions ahead. And yet, still the accidents happen. It is a curious thing given that road signs are simple, effective tools for warning truckers – and every other driver for that matter – what’s coming.
So why the problems? That’s hard to say. First of all, issues between trucks and low hanging bridges aren’t isolated the central Ohio. It is not even isolated to the U.S. Both here and abroad, it seems like more truck drivers are having trouble with low overpasses.
A Lack of Professional Experience
One suggestion explaining the trouble with overpasses is a lack of experience. Some say that many of the accidents involve younger drivers who don’t have a tremendous amount of experience behind the wheel. That may be part of it, but it’s certainly not all of it. It doesn’t take 10 years’ experience to read and understand road signs.
To the extent that inexperience is involved, it may be causing a secondary problem: distraction. There is so much going on inside the cab of a truck these days that it can be very difficult to keep up. Driving a truck is not as mentally easy as it was three or four decades ago. There’s a lot more to think about.
Excessive Reliance on GPS Devices
Another suggestion has been the reliance on GPS devices. If you believe the old adage that says technology makes people dumber, this explanation makes a lot of sense. We’re so used to following our GPS devices that we lack the common discipline to pay attention to signage. If the GPS device says turn here, we turn.
This phenomenon has been observed quite a bit in Europe, where drivers from other countries get themselves in trouble because they’re not familiar with the roads and they’re relying on GPS devices to navigate correctly for them. If that’s the case here, it should be easy enough to correct. In either case, a driver’s reliance on a GPS device should never trump signage. The signs were there long before GPS was even a thing.
A Combination of Things
In all likelihood, there isn’t just one thing causing truckers to find themselves stuck under low bridges. It is likely a combination of things that work to create the perfect traffic storm. A driver is distracted by something, he or she misses a road sign, and the rest takes care of itself.
Here at C.R. England, we do our best to emphasize a safety-first mindset. We encourage truck drivers to pay attention to road signs. They may be simple technology, but they are extremely effective. If there’s a road sign that indicates a low bridge ahead, believe it.
We are looking for new drivers to join the C.R. England team, by the way. If you are interested in learning more about this exciting and rewarding career, we invite you to contact us at your convenience. We are ready to get you started as soon as you are ready to get going.