New York State officials are in the middle of a week-long campaign to cut down on bridge strikes. Last Sunday marked the start of a seven-day enforcement campaign to reduce tall vehicles from hitting low bridges. Governor Kathy Hochul said the situation is “creating public safety hazards, traffic delays and damage to bridges across the state.”
Look out for State Police
New York State Police officers will be patrolling “areas of known bridge hits” in hopes of preventing collisions. The state blames semi-trucks and “other oversized vehicles.”
“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 said in a statement. “While we have implemented measures and technologies across the state to help prevent bridge strikes, nothing is more powerful than knowledge. Drivers of overheight vehicles have a responsibility here, as well: Follow posted warnings, know the height of vehicles and, most importantly, pay attention.”
How big a problem are bridge strikes?
Just how many bridge strikes is the Empire State inflicted with? A total of 808 reported bridge strikes occurred across New York in 2021 and 2022. The issue has become so prevalent that officials have proposed legislation that would place points on a driver’s license for striking a bridge.
“There have been far too many incidents of bridge strikes involving trucks and overheight vehicles in recent years, which are not only dangerous but completely preventable,” Marie Therese Dominguez, Department of Transportation commissioner, said in a statement. “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.”
From the perspective of these writers, low bridges in New York are a way of life, particularly in the Upstate area. We have encountered low bridge warning signs, typically a very short distance from the actual bridge, and often after a curve which puts the bridge out of a reasonable sight line. Finding a place to safely back up a fifth-wheel to avoid clobbering a low bridge is in our permanent memory file of our travels in the Empire State.