Driving Dangers on Big Bridges

On sunny days, or at dawn & sunset, big road bridges can often look very attractive, but when the weather takes a turn for the worse, they can create significant dangers for the unwary driver.

News has just been published today that a truck driver has been killed after high winds apparently pushed his vehicle through the safety fence on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  Tragically the driver lost his life.

This is particularly saddening for me as I went over that bridge, in mildly bad but contrarily beautiful weather, just a few weeks ago while instructing on an advanced driving course in Maryland and Delaware.

Thin fog as we drove eastwards across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
The relatively thin morning fog that we met when driving eastwards over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was misleading. It had been much thicker and potentially more dangerous only a few minutes earlier. (Copyright image.)

 In our case, the bad weather was fog which appeared to have largely burned off before we got there, however, only the top layer had gone from it and the fog down below, between us and the water, was still thick, and showed just how quickly it could have rolled across the bridge and seriously blocked all of the drivers’ views of the roadway.

The superstructure of several moored ships, sticking up through the fog bank.
The superstructure of several ships, moored to the south of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, was eerily visible above the thicker part of the fog bank. (Copyright image.)

The key thing is that tall, exposed bridges can be subject to very serious and very rapid changes of weather, including fog, ice, unconstrained blizzard conditions, driving rain, and the one that killed the unfortunate truck driver mentioned above, high winds.

'Mandatory Headlights Use' signs should serve as fair warning about the possibility of bad weather.
Heading westwards over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge later that day. The ‘Mandatory Headlights Use’ signs and a 50mph speed limit should serve as fair warning about some of the bad conditions. If you find yourself up there in very high winds, slowing down significantly can help greatly, and for big trucks many trucking experts recommend going over tall bridges side-by-side. (Copyright image.)

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Author: EddieWren

Eddie Wren is the CEO and Chief Instructor at Advanced Drivers of North America. His driver safety background is given at: http://www.advanceddrivers.com/ceochief-instructors-resumecvbio/

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