New State Police Campaign Takes Aim at Bridge Strikes

J.M. Lesinski
A shot of the 219 North and South bridges over Big Tree Road in Orchard Park, New York.Photo byPhoto by J.M. Lesinski

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently announced that the New York State Police will conduct a bridge hit enforcement campaign all across the state, commencing on Sunday, November 5th and running through Saturday, November 11.

“Bridge strikes are potentially hazardous to motorists and first responders and have caused needless inconveniences for local communities – but these incidents are 100 percent preventable,” Hochul stated of the campaign. “While we have implemented measures and technologies across the state to help prevent bridge strikes, nothing is more powerful than knowledge. Drivers of over-height vehicles have a responsibility here as well: follow posted warnings, know the height of vehicles and most importantly pay attention.”

Bridge strikes occur when commercial truck operators, RVs, and other trucks such as box and moving trucks fail to recognize height restrictions at overpasses and bridges, and collide with them as a result, often resulting in significant traffic delays, safety hazards, and damage. From 2021-2022, roughly 808 bridge strikes occurred throughout New York state.

“Commercial vehicle drivers must know their height, and must always be cognizant of any low bridges along their route,” remarked New York State Police Acting Superintendent Dominick L. Chiumento of the campaign. “Too many times have we had a commercial vehicle that thought they could squeeze under an overpass. Avoiding these low bridges is crucial for the safety of all that travel New York’s roadways. Not only do bridge strikes cause significant damage and disruption to traffic but they have the potential to present additional hazards to other drivers and the communities wherein these low bridges are found. The State Police will continue to work with our state and local partners with the goal of eliminating these low bridge strikes and thus ensuring everyone’s safety.”

As part of the campaign, New York State Police will patrol bridges and parkways that have previously been struck in an effort to prevent future collisions with the overpasses, coordinating with local law enforcement throughout the duration.

“Bridge hits due to overheight vehicles are almost always preventable,” Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Frank Hoare noted of the campaign. “The response and subsequent repairs not only disrupt traffic, but these incidents are also costly and prevent our maintenance and engineering teams from focusing on other essential duties to maintain a safe and reliable highway. The majority of commercial drivers follow the rules and ensure their loads are below the posted maximum height limits. We urge all truck drivers to check their height before each trip.”

In addition to the New York State Police campaign, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), Thruway Authority, and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee will work in coordination to raise bridge strike awareness on social media channels all week long.

“TANY is proud to work with our state partners on the Bridge Hit Mitigation Task Force to prevent bridge strikes in New York,” said Trucking Association of New York (TANY) President Kendra Hems of the campaign. “Education is a critical component to ensure that drivers, both professional and those that drive rental trucks, take the extra step to check the height of their vehicle, know their route, and be diligent about paying attention to road signs. In conjunction with the education campaign, targeted enforcement sends the message about the seriousness of the issue. TANY looks forward to continuing to work on this important issue with our partners as we all strive to prevent bridge strikes in the future.”

As part of their “Check Your Height, Know It’s Right” campaign, NYSDOT will also continue to educate and alert drivers of possible problematic bridge heights of local bridges via videos and informational graphics that GPS and cell phone maps often overlook.

“There have been far too many incidents of bridge strikes involving trucks and over-height vehicles in recent years, which are not only dangerous but completely preventable,” Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez commented of the campaign. “While we will continue to implement measures that alert drivers to potential low-clearance bridges, it is the responsibility of the operators to drive safely and pay attention to all warnings in place. I thank Governor Hochul and our agency partners for their work in keeping all everyone safe on New York’s roads.”

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I have worked as a professional journalist for over five years now, covering the arts, music, food, politics, and culture up and down both coasts of the United States. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno.

Buffalo, NY

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