Albany, NY -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/17/2012 -- The New York State County Highway Superintendents Association (NYSCHSA) commended the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee for holding a public hearing to tackle the problem of truck-bridge strikes.
"As a leading state transportation organization primarily concerned with the safety of the traveling public, NYSCHSA commends you for taking action regarding this important issue," the group's President David Hartman told Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. "There is certainly a need to examine what steps New York State can take to prevent such bridge collisions by commercial vehicles," Hartman said.
New York State has more than 17,400 highway bridges, with an estimated: 50% owned by local government agencies; 44% owned by NYSDOT; and, the balance owned by authorities (i.e. NYS Thruway Authority). According to Transportation Department data, New York State experiences close to 200 bridge strikes per year. In addition to the threat of bodily injury and death, these predominantly avoidable accidents cause additional expenses to businesses whose deliveries are rerouted and delayed, inconvenience to the driving public with detours and, considerable costs to taxpayers who pay for part, or in some instances, all of the resulting bridge and property repairs.
Of the incidences of trucks colliding with bridges, many are attributed to violation of vehicle posting signs and illegal commercial vehicles on parkways, among others. It is observed from the analysis of the NYSDOT bridge hits database that a majority of bridge hits are by over height vehicles on parkways or other highways restricted to truck traffic. Increased use of consumer GPS by truck drivers has been seen to be contributing to the problem.
"While the problem of commercial trucks driving on state parkways represents a significant factor in the high number of truck-bridge collisions statewide, many of our highway superintendents are aware of bridges in their counties not part of the state parkway system—such as railroad bridges—that are also the sites of multiple collisions," Hartman, who is also Yates County Highway Superintendent, pointed out. "Despite the fact that most roadways and entrance ramps are clearly signed in advance of bridges prohibiting commercial vehicles and warning of low clearances, these accidents are all too frequent. It is hoped that the hearing will shed some light on the causes of the problem and suggest reasonable measures that may mitigate the instances of such collisions," Hartman said.
NYSCHSA noted that trucks stopping short of low bridges and to those attempting to avoid collisions pose different safety issues. "Having a tractor trailer stopped in a lane or attempting to turn around to avoid a low bridge presents a significant safety issue as well," Hartman explained. NYSCHSA would like to see proposed solutions including measures to insure certain commercial trucks avoid getting onto a roadway where inadequate bridge clearances will be a problem.
Hartman said that his members are encouraged that representatives of the trucking industry, highway safety experts and legislators, through the leadership of Senator Fuschillo, are collaborating in this effort to reduce the incidents of these dangerous crashes.
“NYSCHSA and its affiliates look forward to providing Chairman Fuschillo and legislators with their highway safety expertise as post-hearing recommendations are formulated to address truck-bridge collisions in New York State,” Mr. Hartman concluded.
Since 1909, members of the New York State County Highway Superintendents Association (NYSCHSA) have gathered to share their knowledge and experience. A non-profit organization, the Association promotes the construction and maintenance of a safe and modern system of county roads and other allied transportation infrastructure maintained by county government. NYSCHSA’s members are responsible for more than 20,400 miles of county highways and over 9,000 local bridges in New York State.
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