SAFETY: New York experimenting with infrared beams to reduce bridge strikes

State hopes $5 million technology implementation will improve on success of painted warnings

September 11, 2014

With 22 bridge strikes by truck drivers so far in Westchester County, N.Y., in 2014, the New York state Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) will deploy new “over-height detection systems” along Hutchinson River Parkway to determine if these systems can help reduce crashes.

The devices project an infrared beam across the roadway. If broken by a truck or other vehicle, a message will be relayed to the driver to pull off the road and alert the police. Alerts are also sent to the NYSDOT traffic management center, which notifies local police of the situation.

Five over-height detection systems will be installed at entrance ramps all along Hutchinson River Parkway for a total cost of $5 million. NYSDOT has already implemented the technology in three places on the Northern State Parkway on Long Island, and more are expected on Long Island and in New York City in 2015.

The new systems are not the department’s first attempt to curb bridge strikes in Westchester County. In 2012, warnings were painted directly onto the roadway of Hutchinson and Saw Mill River parkways read “NO TRUCKS” and “LOW BRIDGE.” Since the warning were implemented, statistics show that bridge strikes have been halved on the roadways in question.