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According to police, the truck driver was hauling a forklift on the back of his flatbed while traveling north on the New Jersey Turnpike about 12:03 p.m. on Tuesday, December 29. When he approached the Ridge Road/Route 522 overpass his truck made it under, but the forklift didn’t.
When the forklift struck the overpass, it was torn from its moorings and thrown threw a retaining wall, landing on Ridge Road underneath the interstate.
Collision Narrowly Avoided
A limousine driver told police he was driving west on Ridge Road on his way to Belle Meade to pick up passengers when suddenly a forklift apparent fell from the sky and landed in front of his 14-passenger luxury vehicle. He slammed on the brakes and missed the forklift by only a few feet.
While he was shaken up by the incident, he was not injured and continued to pick up his passengers.
It was not immediately known how much damage was caused to the bridge or either roadway. State engineers were assessing the damage and would be making recommendations on repairs, according to New Jersey State Police spokesman Sgt. First Class Gregory Williams.
Huge Traffic Back Up
The incident forced the closure of the New Jersey Turnpike’s northbound lanes for several hours, snarling traffic and inconveniencing drivers on one of the country’s busiest roadways.
There was no immediate information about whether the truck driver hauling the forklift was ticketed in connection with the crash.
How to Avoid Clearance Accidents
Clearance accidents are uncommon, but not impossible — especially when the driver is not aware of how tall the forklift or other load is sitting on the back of his flatbed.
Rather than “guess-timate”, a better plan is to make an accurate measurement. All that is required is a tape measure and a little planning.
First, measure the distance between the bed of the flatbed trailer and the ground. Next (very important), lower the mast of the forklfit to its lowest setting then measure from the top of the mast to the ground.
Then all you need to do is simply add the two numbers together to get the total height of the forklift while it is resting on the flatbed. While the weight of the forklift may cause the bed to lower an inch or two, use this extra distance as a built-in safety issue.
Pay Attention to Posted Clearance
All bridges over US interstates need to have a minimum clearance of 16 feet on rural and 14feet for urban overpasses, according to the US Department of Transportation. The standards are designed to provide at least a 1-foot difference between the maximum legal height of a vehicle and the roadway, with additional allowances for future resurfacing.
If this standard is not met, a design exception is required. These exceptions must be coordinated with the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command Transportation Engineering Agency of the US Defense Department.