Truck Low BridgeNegotiating tight turns in busy urban environments with large RV’s can be very challenging.  Most commonly we think of making our way through narrow roads that are lined with parked cars and turning wide enough to avoid striking the curb or other hazards.  The driving stress level fades as we leave the populated areas for the open highways of the country.  The RV, or vehicle combination now, is not confined to narrow pathways, and the length has little restriction apart from finding a place to pull over.  However, motor homes and fifth wheel trailers have another important specification, over all height and vehicle weight.  Weight, providing you are on a well travelled road, is usually not an issue as most bridges will be adequate in carrying capacity for most RV’s.  Height, however, is a different matter.  Low overhead bridges, power lines, tree branches, service location canopies or like structures must be observed and correctly assessed as to being compatible with your RV’s height.

Unlike objects on the roadway that are quickly steered around, overhead clearances are often not even noticed.  Most GPS navigation systems direct you in the most direct route, regardless of overhead clearances or weight restrictions.  Many clearance accident incidents have been while follow a GPS guidance system, even in buses and semi’s.  The Good Sam Rand McNally GPS provides RV specification input.  Once programmed, it will route you clear of any size or weight issues.  However, it does not account for low tree branches, electrical wires, service canopies or other similar structures.

It is important to note that regardless of listed heights show on bridges etc., it is totally your responsibility if you strike it.  Raised resurfaced roads may change the actual listed clearance.  Again, your responsibility.

Overhead canopies found at many fuel stations or similar services can vary in height.  Anywhere from as high as 14’ down to 8’ or less can be experienced.  Striking any overhead structure can result in personal injury or even a fatal event.

Here are some tips that may help you avoid encountering some common low clearance issues.

  • Avoid routes that forbid trucks. These often have low tree branches among possibly other hazards.
  • Practice estimating the height of overhead canopies, and if in doubt at all, do not venture under it.
  • Have someone responsible watch and report from a distance should you need to go beneath a canopy or wire.
  • Know your rig’s height in feet and metric meters. Add a small buffer for safety.
  • Know your rig’s gross weight in pounds, tons, kilograms and tonnes.
  • Be especially cautious when operating on private property as regulations regarding overhead clearances are not required.

So, if your rig is 7’ or higher, take note.   A 13’ 4” coach won’t fit under a 4 M. bridge clearance.  Remember, you are fully responsible in all overhead clearance issues.  Watch this YouTube video for just what can go wrong.

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    So my question is, if we are driving down the highway and see that a tunnel is less than we can pass through, what are we supposed to do. We cannot try anyway, cannot back up and pulling over will accomplish very little. Other than an expensive GPS, is there any notifications on highways that you should exit if over a certain height?