An incident on 17 June 2008, in which a foreign lorry struck a low bridge near Cannock, the third such incident since April, has prompted the police and Network Rail to call for metric signs to be shown on all bridges in the area.
PC Michael Percival, of Watling Street police station in Cannock, was reported to have said: “We are making recommendations, as are Network Rail, to have metric signs put up in the area. This will hopefully alleviate the problems.”
Despite metric height restriction signs being legal since 1981, many bridges in the UK still have height warning signs in feet and inches only – units that are unfamiliar to most drivers from outside the UK, and probably many UK drivers too.
The Department for Transport Traffic Signs Manual has the following to say on the subject, “Metric heights may be shown in addition to imperial heights at any bridge. This is recommended for all bridges on main routes and on roads used frequently by foreign drivers”.
The cost of a bridge inspection resulting from a bridge bashing incident can be very expensive, hundred thousand-pound figures are not unheard of, and bridge repairs can run into costs approaching millions of pounds.
On their website, Network Rail states that, for the year to 31 March 2007, there were over 2000 reported bridge strikes, and that this number continues to rise. On average about 6 bridge strikes are reported each day.