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What Fleet Drivers Need to Know About Height, Overhead Clearance and Obstructions

shutterstock_153351746-1200x800Commercial motor vehicles are prone to run into overhead obstructions. Most professional drivers have had at least one incident where overhead obstructions were an issue.

Here are 6 tips to help professional truck drivers avoid destructive situations related to height, overhead clearances and obstructions.

  1. Avoid trees and buildings

Overhanging tree branches and building soffit areas are common hazards for big rigs. These are two hazards that can be avoided just by steering clear and keeping your distance from them.

  1. Know your limits

Your vehicle’s maximum legal height is 13’ 6” in the U.S. Read the road signs. If you’re on minor roads or in suburban areas and there’s an overpass, make sure you know exactly the height of your vehicle.

  1. Never trust your GPS

Use your eyes. If you’re unclear whether or not you will fit under a bridge, overpass or other clearance because you don’t know the height of the overhead clearance, get out of your vehicle and look. Get back far enough from your vehicle to get perspective of how high your vehicle is and how high the obstruction is.

  1. Don’t be afraid to back up if needed

If you find yourself in a situation where you have stopped to check the height of the obstruction, and traffic is backed up behind you and you can’t get turned around because there’s not enough space you are going to have to back up. Oftentimes people are very helpful. If you put your 4-way flashers on and back up slowly, they’ll move out of the way to accommodate you. Somebody with local knowledge will often assist you. In general, people love helping truck drivers because they recognize there are certain challenges involved in maneuvering.

  1. Not all states measure height the same way

One example of this is that the state of New York measures truck height from the center of the wheel hub, as opposed to the road surface like in most states. The truck overhead road signs are labeled 12’6”,  12’8” or 13’. If your rig is 13’6”, it seems like it’s not going to fit. But if you add the extra distance between the center of the wheel hub and the road, your truck might fit. New York State has not rectified this problem in all areas so do not trust your GPS, do not trust the signs. If you’re unsure, stop, get out and look.

  1. Do not do a U-turn

What should you do if you are in a dire situation and you can’t back up? Call the police. That’s what they are for. They will come out, stop traffic, move traffic around and help you get backed up.  Do not try to do a U-turn because you are likely to do serious damage to property and your vehicle. It is better to wait and think through the situation from a logical standpoint.

The best course of action when it comes to height, overhead clearance and obstructions is to have an action plan in place that will keep you, your rig and other drivers safe. To learn more ways to improve fleet safety, contact the experts at Encompass Risk Solutions.

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