Research Project

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Vehicle-Based Low Clearance Detector


To demonstrate commercially available vehicle-based technologies for 1) detecting a low-clearance overpass in the path of a commercial vehicle, and 2) warning the commercial driver about the low clearance prior to striking the low-clearance overpass.


Fatalities have occurred with motorcoaches striking bridges. Bridge strikes by trucks ranged from 5,971–6,171 across the Nation between 2005 and 2008. In a press conference on September 24, 2012, New York Senator Schumer raised the issue, and in a public letter asked former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to address the problem.


The considered technology was vehicle-based (as opposed to infrastructure-based). In comparison, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is looking at reducing bridge strikes using technologies that are installed on the infrastructure. Infrastructure-based technologies are not a complete solution to the problem of avoiding bridge strikes because they are expensive and there is no requirement for the local or State governments that own the bridges to install the technologies. Global positioning systems for trucks are also not a complete solution because there are many low-clearance overpasses that are not documented, and thus not in a navigation database for trucks. There is also no requirement for a local or State government to document all low-clearance overpasses.


Final report


May 2015: Project management plan
November 2015: Literature review
February 2015: Preliminary field operations test to down select technologies for final field operations test
July 2016: Execution of final field operations test at Transportation Research Center
September 2016: Final report due


FY 2015: $150,000

Current Status:

Complete—Report pending publication.

Project Manager:

For more information, contact Quon Kwan of the Technology Division at (202) 385-2389 or


John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
Updated: Friday, January 6, 2017
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