Semi-trailer trucks have hit B.C. overpasses 29 times in 2 years. Most drivers just received tickets

Sitting behind the wheel of a 14-foot-tall semi-trailer, Doug Clarke pulls onto Highway 1 near an overpass not far from his driving school in Langley, about 38 kilometres southeast of Vancouver. The bridge was struck by a truck last year.

Just a kilometre westbound down the road, he drives underneath a railway overpass. It was hit by a semi-trailer last week.

He then drives another few hundred metres further down the highway and points out the re-construction of an overpass at Glover Road, which he says was routinely struck by truck drivers over the years.

“They tore down the overpass and they’re building a higher one, but [the old overpass] was higher than the railway overpass,” he says.

“That’s not going to solve it, they’re just going to hit the railway overpass.”

“Every one of these instances disappoint me,” the 87-year-old lifelong trucker adds. “Fortunately none of these have caused a death. If they did, it would start to take on more importance.”

There have been 29 incidents of trucks striking overpasses in B.C. since December 2021, when the province started making the data publicly available. Violation tickets were issued in 24 of the incidents, while in four cases, the carriers were suspended.

Instructors like Clarke expect the figures are much higher, with many less severe strikes likely going unreported.

He suspects distracted driving is largely to blame for the mounting number of incidents, which he believes could be curbed by regulatory re-training for licence holders.

“People aren’t paying attention to what they’re seeing, or they’re thinking of other things rather than driving trucks,” said Clarke.

“There’s height labelling on all of the overpasses as to what height is, but most of the incidents are of people who haven’t even measured the load that they’re carrying.”

No overpass strikes have resulted in arrests or criminal charges, including in the Sept. 19 crash on Highway 1 at Dollarton Highway, where the driver fled. They have yet to be located.

The company, Whistler 99 Courier and Freightways Corporation, is back on the road after being suspended for just over a week. They were fined $3,500.