Trucker gambles on bridge clearance. Was this crash preventable?

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Updated Jul 22, 2021
Trucker John Doe assessed the situation and believed he would have enough bridge clearance, though it would be close. Perhaps too close?
Trucker John Doe assessed the situation and believed he would have enough bridge clearance, though it would be close. Perhaps too close?


Tractor-trailer driver John Doe was on a handsfree call with a fellow driver, cautiously going 25 mph in downtown traffic.

Doe hastily ended the conversation as he passed by a road, on his left, where he was supposed to turn. A quick glance to his left revealed his delivery location, a warehouse, up ahead.

Without a commercial GPS to calculate a new route, Doe did what he thought was the next-best thing and turned left at the next corner. This put him onto a residential road with an underpass. The clearance sign was marked at 13 feet, 1 inch.

Knowing his trailer stood 13 feet tall, Doe proceeded with extreme caution at a snail’s pace under the bridge. After several feet he stopped when he heard and felt an unmistakable bridge strike.

Was this accident preventable or not?

The National Safety Council ruled it was preventable. The sign may have been inaccurate, but the council noted it is foolish to gamble on a 1-inch clearance. Doe should have turned around and looked for a safer route.