Drivers who hit bridges will be pulled in front of a traffic commissioner and could face “exceptionally harsh” punishments, warn road transport solicitors.
Backhouse Jones said Network Rail has become “fed up” of the number of bridge strikes by HGVs and the rail operator has set up a system in which it notifies the traffic commissioner’s office as soon as an incident is reported.
Network Rail said there are on average five bridge strikes by lorries every day and it’s costing the taxpayer £23m every year.
Mark Davies, solicitor at Backhouse Jones, said: “You may have a completely impeccable record, there will be no other issue for the traffic commissioner at that public inquiry but a bridge strike is enough.”
Backhouse Jones director, Jonathon Backhouse, said he’d recently dealt with a case where a driver hit a bridge but it wasn’t marked as a low bridge because the sign had been stolen: “That was a driver that hadn’t had a single significant accident in 30 years of driving, no points on his licence, he had almost an exemplary driving record and yet the traffic commissioner thought that because he had hit this bridge which was unsigned the starting point [for disqualification] should be between three and six months.
“We persuaded them to do a lot less than that in the end and reduced it to a fortnight.
“My personal view is that was exceptionally harsh.”
Earlier this year, the senior TC Richard Turfitt hinted that they would start coming down hard on companies for failing to route their vehicles correctly (CM 16 May).