The initiative was announced by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who said that state police are conducting the bridge hit enforcement campaign between Sunday, Nov. 5 through Saturday, Nov. 11 to prevent oversized vehicles from colliding with overpasses.
The enforcement detail was planned in response to the common occurrence of bridge strikes in New York due to truck drivers failing to recognize their vehicle's height. According to Hochul's office, there were more than 800 bridge strikes across New York State from 2021 through 2022.
"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.
She continued, "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."
As part of the enforcement detail, state police will patrol areas of known bridge hits and parkways in order to stop oversized vehicles from hitting bridges. These details will be coordinated with local law enforcement commercial vehicle inspectors in areas where the incidents are common, officials said.
New York State Police Acting Superintendent Dominick Chiumento commented on the importance of the detail.
"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," Chiumento said.
Since the beginning of 2023, there have been 91 bridge strikes on the New York State Thruway, a 44 percent increase from 2022, during which there were 63 reported incidents.
One particularly serious bridge strike happened on the South Broadway overpass in the Rockland County hamlet of South Nyack, which was hit by an overheight tractor-trailer on Thursday, Aug. 31. This resulted in all southbound lanes of Interstate 87 and Interstate 287 being closed for 16 hours on Saturday, Sept. 9 to facilitate stabilization of the bridge.
"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," Chiumento said.
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