Trucks and Overpasses

October 17th, 2017 by Guajardo & Marks, LLP

While it may seem almost comical, the results are frighteningly real: a semi-truck that simply won’t fit through an overpass or low-ceilinged bridge or tunnel. Most times, the truck’s trailer is smashed, and the overpass may be damaged as well — but sometimes the result can be worse.

One of the most recent examples occurred last May on US Highway 67 roughly four miles east of Glen Rose.  According to a report from NBC in Dallas-Fort Worth, a commercial rock-hauling truck attempted to cross a bridge with metal bracings, but misjudged the height, wrecking the bridge and the trailer. The television station reported that it appeared the rock hauler had the cargo compartment in the up position, damaging the sway braces. While no injuries were reported, the bridge was impassable for more than four hours.

According to the Department of Transportation, regulations state that a semi-truck may be between 13 feet 6 inches to 14 feet in height, with certain exceptions. It is absolutely vital that the drivers know their truck’s exact height before attempting to cross under a low bridge, underpass or tunnel. However, heights may shift. A loaded vehicle may ride lower than an empty one, so if the driver knows his height before dropping off his load and doesn’t recheck, a close clearance he made on the way to his destination may be too low for the ride home.

While comprehensive statistics aren’t available, evidence of the crashes frequently make the news. A simple Google search shows dozens of examples, including an accident in December, 2014, in Irving. CBS Dallas- Fort Worth reported a semi crashing into an overpass on northbound loop 12 and east Hwy 183 that closed both highways for nearly six hours.

The crash, in which the driver suffered only minor injuries, damaged three crossbeams that supported far right lanes and the shoulder of I-83, closing those lanes and that part of the highway until they could be inspected for safety.

These accidents can occur any place heavily trafficked by vehicles hauling cargo. The Washington Post reports that in August in Little Rock, Arkansas, a truck carrying frozen pizzas crashed into an overpass on Interstate 30, spilling pizzas all over the roadway. No injuries were reported, but traffic was stalled in both directions for several hours.

While serious injuries appear to be fairly uncommon among these sorts of accidents, the true cost is in property damage, both to the truck and potentially to the roadway. And an accident on a busy highway, especially in a densely populated area like Dallas, can cost hours of productivity for workers waiting in traffic.

If you have suffered an injury because of a truck accident, contact Guajardo & Marks of Dallas today. With more than 50 years of experience, we have the knowledge and resources to give our fellow Texans the legal help they need. If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment, contact us online or call us at 972.774.9800.