'Tis the season to be jolly, but 'tis also the busiest season of the year for those who carry out delivery jobs for a living. For hardworking drivers, this can quite often entail travelling through unfamiliar regions, which increases the possibility of encountering unexpected low-level bridges.
Check It, Don’t Chance It
Network Rail has launched a campaign to raise awareness about the size of vehicles and the height of bridges on unfamiliar routes. Under the mantra "check it, don’t chance it", the Bridge Bash Campaign launched in October 2017. It will run until April 2018 and is aimed squarely at HGV drivers.
Prior to implementing the campaign, Network Rail conducted a study, revealing that more than 43% of UK lorry drivers did not takes steps to measure the vehicle that they were using for delivery jobs. What’s more, the study found that more than half did not even consider the issue of low-rail bridges. This lack of awareness equates to (on average) five bridge strikes per day in the UK, causing huge delays and disruptions that have wide-ranging effects. When one considers that each bridge strike costs £13,500 and results in a delay of at least two hours, the big picture becomes worryingly clear.
The Bridge Bash Campaign reminds drivers to not only check their vehicle's dimensions, but to also plan their route before setting out in order to avoid low bridges. As well as potentially avoiding costly disruptions for the rail-travelling public, the campaign could save lorry drivers both time and money, enabling them to set out on their delivery jobs with no fear of expensive repairs and down time as a result of a bridge strike. HGV drivers also risk large fines and losing their licence if found negligent in an incident.
Champions of a Cause
Network Rail has appointed a team of "Bridge Strike Champions" to visit industry trade bodies and private logistics companies in order to raise awareness. Each of these representatives manages the issue on a local level, with an appointment to the position in Anglia, London North Eastern and East Midlands, London North Western, Scotland, South East, Wales, Wessex and Western. (Contact details for representatives can be found on the Network Rail website.)
Part of the Bridge Bash Campaign involves the installation of steel beams on bridges that are identified as high risk. This fortification will reduce any impact and ensure that damage to infrastructure is kept to a minimum. Officials are also working closely with local authorities to make sure that all surrounding road signage is kept accurate and up to date. Along with regular reviews of the signage, there is a stringent safety inspection and maintenance programme in place to make sure that signage is in optimal condition.
Drivers: Do Your Part
As well as producing a good practice guide for drivers and freight managers (multi-lingual versions are available), which can be downloaded from the Department for Transport's website, Network Rail has launched a training course as part of the mandatory CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence). The course has been designed specifically for anyone working in delivery jobs to develop their skills to avoid bridge strikes, and can be tailored to fit in with individual company policies.
"Check it, don’t chance it” is always sound advice, but the implementation of the Bridge Bash Campaign raises awareness of this very important issue at one of the most relevant times of the year.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching delivery jobs with available drivers. Over 4,800 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.