Bill was hauling a load of brand new pickup trucks. As he neared the dealership, he saw the route he planned was under construction. He needed to take a short detour around the block to get to the entrance. Although the area was residential, the streets were wide and Bill had plenty of room to maneuver. The streets were lined with trees, but he thought he had more than enough clearance. Besides that, the tree limbs looked pretty small and delicate… certainly not enough to cause any damage if he brushed against one or two. He arrived at the dealership with no further delays and unloaded his cargo. Each one of the brand new pickups that were on the top deck had dents on the roof and deep gouges in the paint. Every damaged truck was crushed and the total claim was $135,000.
When Bill’s detour took him down an unexpected road, he made several expensive errors in judgment: (1) estimating the tree limbs’ height by eye versus getting out and measuring, and (2) assuming the branches could not harm his cargo. Simply “eye-balling” the height of your cargo, a bridge, a traffic light, or a tree branch is always a bad idea, especially while in a moving vehicle. Experienced haulers know the only way to accurately gauge something’s height is to measure it. Bill’s second mistake was assuming there were only small and flexible limbs above. While there were small and flexible limbs, those branches were hiding the larger, older limbs that had latticed together and created a very solid hazard.
Overhead accidents are always preventable. While measuring the height of your load and planning your route are important, overhead obstacles cannot always be anticipated. There may be detours, missed turns, or even just trees branches that grew since the last time you went through. By exercising the following best practices, you can prevent costly mistakes:
-1-When in doubt, get out. Never “eye-ball” the height of a possible overhead obstacle: get out and measure it.
-2-Be aware of the routes you take. Avoid residential areas when possible, since these roads are not built to accommodate tractor trailers and auto haulers.
-3-Remember that tree branches can hide other overhead obstacles, such as larger tree branches and poorly-maintained power lines. What you see above you does not mean that is all there is.