Durham's infamous "can opener" bridge claims second victim of the year

Originally published at: Durham's infamous "can opener" bridge claims second victim of the year | Boing Boing


Calling @wazroth and the bingo card.


oh boy oh boy oh boy


Ooo, that one looked like it just scraped the tops of the rivets. If they’d had just a few thousand pounds of cargo on the springs, the suspension might have let them accidentally clear it.

I am impressed that the +8" has reduced the number of collisions by such a large factor. It sounds like it’s gone from 12/year down to about 4/year. We can safely assume that’s entirely controlled by the average height of the local trucks, as I’m pretty sure the number of idiot drivers has remained constant.


What’s interesting to me is the number of people that don’t stop to look at the damage, or to drag the debris off the road. I guess they are so humiliated that they want to get away as fast as they can? I think if it were me, I’d pull over to asses the damage, and at least collect the big chunks.


You’re also not an idiot who’d drive a truck into a bridge.


One thing is that this is not a great spot to stop. I suspect (and this is bolstered by some other videos that run longer after the crash) that the people will pull over a bit down Gregson where it straightens out and there is more shoulder and some parking lots that can be pulled into.


I’d like to think so. Thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt. :slightly_smiling_face:


To your original point, when it’s a minor infraction like this (i.e., the damage is “curlicues of metal” rather than “parts of a truck”) the drivers often don’t bother with any kind of cleanup. I know a guy with an office around the corner and he often comes out after a crash to 1) collect crash art, and 2) clear the roadway of hazards.


People really, really trust green lights. Make that traffic light flash yellow or even red when the overheight protocol is triggered, and there will be a reduction in wrecks. A mixed message isn’t going to be as effective.


In addition to the reasons given upthread, I suspect it’s also because most of these accidents are rental trucks. These are people who aren’t used to driving anything big, aren’t accustomed to reading clearance signs, and don’t know what a box scrape sounds or feels like. They probably also panic a little bit and keep going because the truck seems superficially okay (it’s still driving). There’s probably a lot of motivated reasoning (“Was that me? Probably not. I don’t think so, right?”) going on in those cabs.

This bridge exists right in the sweet spot of “the biggest trucks that you can still rent without an air brake certification won’t clear it”.


Snl Bag GIF by Saturday Night Live


The Can Opener theme song should be Wanna Be Startin Somethin’; “too high to get over, too low to get under” and we’re stuck in the middle cause ‘the pain is thunder…’


I’m sorry, the card is full and doesn’t include that observation.

Please try again :grin:

(ETA: maybe @wazroth would consider making it a 6x6 grid :imp:)


To be sure, the purpose of the bingo card is to promote original observations and suggestions. I really like @rchrdschndr’s suggestion! Having the light transition to a blinking yellow for, say, 30 seconds after the red ends, I think, would be a great improvement.


Really the solution to this is obvious. They can’t move the bridge, they can’t move the road, so clearly they just need to move Durham. It’s such a simple solution I just can’t understand why they haven’t done it yet! :man_shrugging:


I think they literally tried this, and maybe it still does work this way, that the light will be red if the front vehicle is an overheight truck. However if the truck is second or third back, they can’t do that because the truck can’t clear the road until it gets to the intersection, which requires a green light.

There are videos on the channel of a truck sitting at that red light, the over height sign flashing in their face ordering them to turn, and then they drive straight into the bridge when it turns green.

I don’t think traffic light shenanigans will help here.


Someone sneakily overinflated the truck’s tyres overnight, knowing the driver would be on this route the next day?


In the Before Times, it was just a large static sign with yellow warning lights that would blink when an oversize vehicle would approach. When they upgraded it, they switched it to the lighted sign with the height-triggered traffic light (with behavior basically as currently seen).

I think having it switch from red to blinking-yellow instead of from red to green speaks to what @rchrdschndr says about human behavior in response to a green light. The mental model of “Green light = mash the accelerator” is a tough one to break out of. The OODA loop between “light turns green” and “actuate accelerator” is short-circuited for most of us thanks to years of driving behavior. But having it transition from red to blinking-yellow would force the drivers out of the familiar mental model and could very well result in increased vigilance. I think this would have more success than either the old blinking light (freestanding blinking yellows are used all over the place for all kinds of reasons and usually don’t require a significant change to driver behavior) or the current model.


I’ll give it 3/10 for damage; but 9/10 for the satisfying noise.

Drive it like you stole it!