Sergio Leone remix of truck-eating bridge

It, a website devoted to a low-clearance bridge in Durham, North Carolina that shaves the tops off of about a dozen trucks a year, created this video compilation of the nine trucks and one RV that were can opened in 2010. As Mr. Jalopy would say, "This is my favorite kind of problem - someone else's."

The Good, The Bad and Some Ugly Crashes

(Submitterated by yovo68)

Previously: Videos of 11-foot-8 trestle eating 12-foot trucks


  1. I’m so powerfully ambivalent about the perennial internet videos of this damn bridge. Watching trucks get can-opened is hilarious. But the fact that no one (not the city or the railway or the state) has stepped up to deal with this problem is utterly depressing.

    A savvy engineer could probably figure out how to excavate the road and solve the problem. Admittedly, truck drivers should be more careful, but having an overpass which is just slightly shorter than most mid-sized trucks seems like a cruel trap.

    1. There is no way around it. As a resident, it has been discovered several times over many years. Not too far in either direction are higher detour routes. The cost isn’t worth it, people are just dumb (note how many of them are rental trucks). There are so many flashing signs at this underpass. The railroad finally added I-beams in front of it because the bridge was taking a beating.

  2. The only problem here is clueless truck drivers. If you’re driving a truck, you should know what the required clearance is, and pay attention.

    Hell, I used to drive a truck for my family’s farm when I was 17, and I knew what the clearance was, and knew enough to watch for the signs.

    Sure, they could excavate the road another foot, but then they’d just catch bigger trucks. And who’s going to pay for that? It’d be a lot of money to do, since they’d have to excavate back probably 100 feet on either side, which puts them well past the intersection, then they’d have to modify the connecting road too, and there are probably utilities underneath that would have to be relocated, etc, etc.

    1. Even so, why don’t they just put something harmless in front of the bridge that you’d hit before you crash into the bridge, the way they do on highways around here? It’s not that hard and certainly would save the city money.

      1. In the UK, we tend to have a light beam across the road on the approach to low bridges. This drives a set of warning lights or traffic lights to stop vehicles before they plane the roof off. This only works if the driver doesn’t want to be a total hoop and drive through the red – which has happened…

    2. Well, insurance payouts affect the costs of drivers at large. So the public IS paying for it…

      As has been pointed out, there are a lot of rental trucks. Newbie truck drivers probably expect that the bridge is just high enough. Drivers of larger commercial trucks are probably more experienced and thus more likely to pay attention to the height warning.

  3. At first, I was wondering how they could possibly miss all the bright yellow/flashing signs clearly indicating the height of the bridge…

    Then I noticed that most of the trucks are rental trucks. It’s possible that people who aren’t professional truck drivers wouldn’t be as comfortable and minful handling them.

  4. I’m noticing a lot of rental trucks in this montage.

    I have to say, I almost did something like this once. Caught myself just in time!

  5. As for rental trucks, there’s a big, fat warning sticker on the visor of most rentals, isn’t there?

    By the way, is this a ride?

  6. I’d like to see the city hang some chains at bridge-height, about fifty feet in front of it. If your truck hits the chains (making loud noise and startling the driver), your truck isn’t going to fit under the bridge.

  7. To note, the FAQ page states that making the road lower is also more expensive than you’d think:

    That would be prohibitively expensive because a sewer main runs just a few feet below the road bed. That sewer main also dates back about a hundred years and, again, at the time there were no real standards for minimum clearance for railroad underpasses.

    There is the “chains” idea where you have a higher beam above the high limit with chains below. When you hear the chains rubbing on the roof, you’ll get alerted to the problem. The FAQ again states that the turn just before the road makes it an issue. I wonder if putting the chains on that turn, even if it’s only applicable for a right or left turn, would be enough to reduce accidents.

  8. If it were measured in metric this wouldnt be a problem. People can’t do math in their heads anymore. 11’8″ is just too confusing, clearly.

  9. It seems quite a few of the drivers swerve to the left lane, assuming (I assume) that that side is higher, since it has no flashing lights. (Of course, overlooking that the height sign is posted on both sides.)

    But – that would lead me to believe if the flashing warning sign would stretch across the *whole* bridge, that this would prevent at least a few additional crashes.

    As far as the rental trucks are concerned – if you don’t drive trucks on a regular basis, it’s quite easy to forget about its height. As a passenger car driver you NEVER have to worry about bridges, so the few times you drive a rental truck you will be so occupied with all the other things that are different (width, instrumentation, visibility) that there are few brain cells left to dealing with height as well.

    1. Hanging chains, clearance bars etc… usually help prevent such crashes. But here, overheight food-delivery trucks have to be able to safely drive right up to the bridge in order to turn onto the side streets for deliveries to several restaurants.

      1. You’re right. The sign should say: If you hit this bridge, you will hit this bridge. It would only cost A Few Dollars More.

  10. It looks like almost all rental trucks. Having rented a truck, I know I wasn’t aware of the height of the rental nor was I warned that there might be underpasses that wouldn’t work with the truck. You’d think they’d provide that information.

  11. so glad to see my hometown famous for something other than crime and lacrosse players!

    i used to work at a store right next to this bridge, and we loved it when trucks hit the thing. we’d wander over during our breaks to see the depressed and abashed drivers staring at the wreckage of their rental trucks, waiting for the cops.

    once a tractor trailer hit it. best one ever. this would have been around 2000-2001…

  12. the 11foot8 bridge is on southbound Gregson Street in Durham, NC

    there is a large steel I-beam set at the same height as the bridge (11’8″) about 10 feet out from the bridge to keep trucks from actually damaging the train tracks

    farther up from the bridge on Gregson St there are more warning signs to for overheight vehicles

  13. What fun to watch! Sucks if it happens on your moving day though. A neighbor moving into the apt. complex next door ran a U-haul truck into an overhanging balcony and sheared. it. off. completely! Now that was funny! Sorry, no you tube link. =(

  14. We have one of those bridges in the town where I used to live:,8.5839&num=1&t=h&sll=52.195807,8.581551&sspn=0.109499,0.256119&ie=UTF8&ll=52.204401,8.583922&spn=0.002406,0.006893&z=18&iwloc=A
    My father used to work in a company nearby and they were placing bets if a lorry would get stuck there during the day.
    The very smart drivers looked at the beginning if they had enough clearance and then got stuck in the middle.

  15. I live a couple miles from this bridge. Our city has bigger issues and the city coucil is as corrupt as they get, so this bridge will likely be this way forever. There are plenty of warnings so the drivers really have no excuse.

    1. Motion/height detection lasers and flashing lights. That should do the trick.

      It’s hard to see in the video, but what the big overhead sign stretched across the roadway actually says is:


      The flashing lights are triggered by a pole-mounted sensor about half a block up on Gregson, visible in this Google Maps Street View.

      So, you might think that would do the trick – but, apparently, you’d be wrong. :-)

  16. I saw a boat do this on the Fremont bridge in Seattle. It was obvious to me he wasn’t going to make it, but he just slowly puttered right into it. It knocked the mast over and peeled the deck like a banana. The bridge didn’t notice.

    He sheepishly turned right around and headed back to port. The boat fit just fine going under the second time.

  17. Near where I used to live there was an overpass over a road at the bottom of a steep hill. Even though the clearance directly under the bridge was 12’6″, if the rear of a 12′ semi-trailer was still on the hill it would get wedged under the bridge.

    I always thought it would be funny to have a sign explaining the effective clearance as a function of the length of the vehicle. Instant trigonometry lesson!

  18. Looks like a very expensive way to measure the height of your truck.

    I just saw the movie “Crash” for the first time last night. I’m happy to report that I am not turned on by this footage. Of course, Holly Hunter’s not in the room, so that might be a factor.

  19. Oh dear god what a horribly edited video. It’s like when selecting fonts were new, so people used 16 different fonts in every document. How many layers of sound effects, music, and effects can we compress into one video montage.

    /video snob

  20. Okay, after looking at that bridge in Google StreetView, the “numerous warning signs” consist of two signs beside the bridge indicating the clearance, a sign that reads “vehicles overheight when flashing” directly in front of and placed way higher than the bridge and two yellow flashing lights left and right of said sign.

    There are lots of things they could do that would be way cheaper than having emergency services clean up there periodically. Put up (multiple) warning signs a block or two before the bridge, put up a stop sign for traffic going straight at that intersection and do the chain thing 15 feet in front of the bridge (after the intersection).

    Anything would be an improvement, really. The warning signs are obviously not adequate.

    1. The warning signs are obviously not adequate.

      Well, if there are a dozen crashes a year, I guess it depends on how many trucks don’t crash. It doesn’t exactly look like the world’s busiest truck thoroughfare, but if only one truck per hour approached that bridge and all but 12 of them decided they had better go around, then that would be 8,754 successes vs. 12 failures per annum. A 99.863% success rate ain’t too shabby… especially if the failures don’t seem to be fatalities, and rarely result in damage to other vehicles. It doesn’t look like it was fun to be in the yellow Penske’s cab that was hauling ass through: looked like someone might have bumped his head something fierce.

      It’s just that the failures are so entertainingly spectacular. Don’t change a thing, Durham!

      1. Correct. The success rate is pretty good. Every day there are at least a handful of trucks (incl. the occasional semi) that turn onto the side street after setting off – and the driver noticing – the warning lights. The success rate would be even better if the 25-MPH speed limit were more vigorously enforced.

  21. Just think of all the amusing videos we would miss out on if the road were made lower of the bridge higher

  22. You’d think the rental companies would be fed up with all the insurance claims and do something about driver awareness.

  23. Maybe the flashing lights & warning signs need to be lower & in line of a driver sight, as if they can’t read the clearance info on sun visor of rental trucks, what makes one think they will pay any attention to fllashing lights & signs “Above Line Of Sight”.

  24. If the local government really cared, they’d hire snipers to shoot out the trucks’ tires before they hit the bridge.

    1. I think there would be plenty of volunteers for this job … Personally I vote for confetti bombs when a truck hits the crash beam.

  25. We have a bridge like that in our town. It’s near the dorms and every year the college kids come in with their U-hauls and Ryders and get munched just like in this video. Our bridge has also eaten a couple of double-decker buses that a local English-themed bar used to ferry drunks around in, until they switched to a little black cab instead. OM NOm NoM!

  26. We have a rail trestle here in Upstate NY. Ours is 10ft 9in high. There are 11 warnings before the bridge. Yet it seems to get hit at least once a year. Most recently, A Double-Decker Megabus crashed into it because the driver was probably distracted by his GPS(probably lost). The crash killed 4 people. Usually just strips the tops of trucks. I’ve heard it would cost millions to raise the bridge and approach. Its a very active rail line. It’s not possible to drop the road, the road would flood.

  27. So there’s a bridge with a sign NO VEHICLES OVER 11’8″ and these two guys are in a truck that’s twelve feet tall.

    One of them looks around and says, “I don’t see any cops. Let’s go for it!”

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