On April 8th, a tractor-trailer crossing the Monitor Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel in Virginia lost control and crashed into the concrete barrier on the left side of the road. The trucker, 43-year-old Almira Ribic, had to be rescued by emergency workers from her truck cab, which was dangling precariously over the side of the bridge.
Virginia State Police warned that bridges can be especially dangerous for trucks due to increased hazards such as wind. Let’s take a closer look at why bridges can be a common place for tractor-trailer crashes:
- Wind. Wind can rip across a bridge, especially if it is spanning a river or gorge. Add a tall, broad tractor-trailer into the mix, and the result is a large number of truck accidents caused by toppling trailers and tipping cabs.
- Ice. You may have seen the signs: bridge freezes before road. This is because the pavement on a bridge is not insulated by the ground and, instead, is exposed to cold air and wind. Look for ice on bridges even when other parts of the roadway are clear.
- Narrow lanes. Some small bridges have narrower lanes than other parts of the road—or only one lane. This presents an even greater danger when wide and heavy tractor-trailers are sharing the bridge with you.
- No shoulder. Bridges don’t have the luxury of wide shoulders for safe pull-offs in emergencies. If a vehicle becomes disabled while on a bridge, there is often nowhere to go—or little room to safely get out of the way of oncoming traffic. Trucks have even more trouble avoiding disabled vehicles than passenger cars.
- Visibility issues. Bridges are, for the most part, straight and curve upward, sometimes making it difficult to see what is happening in front of you. Fog along a river or waterway may also create visibility issues.
- Chain reaction crashes. Because bridges create several visibility issues, and because it is difficult to avoid accidents on narrow and narrow-shouldered bridges, they are common locations for chain reaction crashes.