Worst Trucker(s) in the World: Headache!

The Worst Trucker in the World is a semi-regular attempt to remind professional drivers not to do dumb things that end up in the mass media and make everyone in the trucking business look bad. And the business media doesn’t get more influential than The Wall Street Journal, from which this week’s WTITW draws its lesson.

With more than 100 comments in the first few days (and counting), “The Joys of Watching a Bridge Shave the Tops Off Trucks” was clearly a popular item. The post tells of a Durham, NC, underpass that snags so many trucks a man who lives nearby has set up cameras and a website devoted to capturing (and reposting) the action for all the world to see.

With a clearance of 11 ft.-8 in., that’s about two feet less than a box truck or van trailer needs to get by, and when the truck can’t make it through “it can be pretty spectacular,” the website’s Jürgen Henn tells the WSJ.

The most popular clips have more than a million views, and Henn’s online store sells “crash art”—the chunks the bridge has carved off trucks, according to the story.

North Carolina DOT says the more than 100 accidents since 2008 have produced no fatalities and only one injury, but the bridge has caused more than $500,000 in vehicle damage.

To say nothing of the embarrassment, including one driver who admitted he was familiar with the website. “Oh, no. Not this bridge,” he said.

(In fairness to professional truck drivers, a number of the accidents involved rental vans and local delivery vehicles, with some/many/most driven by non-CDL holders—we hope.)

Transportation officials continue to try to find some combination of height sensors and warning lights to fix the problem for the otherwise clearly marked bridge. One key problem remains, however.

“We’ll never totally eliminate stupidity in this world,” Henn says in the WSJ. “But we can reduce the risk.”

Trucker Pro Tip #1: Read the signs, and know how tall your rig is.

Trucker Pro Tip #2: Use only truck-specific routing and navigation tools. Basic GPS mapping on a smart phone isn’t smart enough to know there’s a 13-foot box attached to your vehicle.

Got a main-stream media report of a trucker behaving badly that the rest of us could learn a little something from, pass it along. But please address all complaints to Keith Olbermann.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: After the publication of the WSJ story, the 11foot8[DOT]com URL was hijacked by a DNS server in Europe. In a note on his homepage, Henn warns that anyone who is redirected to a malicious website should not click on any of the pop-ups and should close their web browser immediately. Therefore,  American Trucker is not providing a live link (although the site was up and running when last we checked). The videos are available on Henn’s YouTube channel, however.]

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