Tougher penalties needed for bridge strike drivers

AS the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s Ian Crowder pointed out in HR issue238 when referring to damage to the Station Road overbridge at Broadway, the widespread menace of bridge strikes needs to be tackled.

Apart from the expense and disruption caused by bridge bashing, there is serious danger of a fatal accident occurring. A few years back a bridge on the West of England Main Line was struck and dislodged from its abutments by several inches, introducing a kink in the track.

Adding finishing touches to trackwork on the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s Broadway extension, a hired-in tamper crosses the strike-prone Station Road/Evesham Road bridge on February 20 and enters the station to the left, catching the rays of a rare setting sun. IAN CROWDER

Had an HST run into this at 100mph it would have derailed with serious consequences. Fortunately, the signals were altered in time and drivers were warned to approach under caution.

The penalty for a bridge strike should be the same as any other example of dangerous driving – fines/penalty points and finally, in the case of repeated offences and/or a fatality, disqualification/imprisonment.

A road driver, especially a goods vehicle driver, must realise that he or she alone and not the owner of the vehicle, is responsible for awareness of all aspects of their load, including height. Where signs warning of low bridges are clearly displayed and a driver ignores them, insurance companies should refuse to pay out compensation.

The vehicle owner is not in any way responsible and their insurance should not be affected. The drivers alone should pay for the damage they inflict – that might make them a little more careful.

Peter Davis, Bristol

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