AUSTIN - An 18-wheeler's collision with the overpass at Interstate-35 and Stassney Lane has raised concerns about oversized truck loads on Texas roadways.
The truck's cargo was too tall to clear the bridge and badly damaged a concrete beam overhead. But, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) says permits for these types of trucks has increased.
The DMV expects to process 720-thousand oversized load permits this year. That's a 22-percent increase from the record they set in 2011. That means more hazards for drivers.
"We're seeing an increase in these bridge strikes," said John Esparza of the Texas Motor Transportation Association. "So, we've been working on driver awareness."
A new system called "TxPro" is designed to prevent accidents like the one at the Stassney overpass. For every permit issued by the DMV, it automatically maps a route for the truck driver, taking into consideration the size of the freight, with the latest road information from the Texas Department of Transportation. That information includes construction, traffic congestion, and detours.
The Texas Motor Transportation Association says the step-by-step directions are essential for truck drivers to navigate through the complicated infrastructure of a city.
"It's possible to miss an exit," said Esparza. "But, you can see how critical it could be to follow that [map] to the 'T'".
Had the Stassney driver followed the instructions outlined in the permit, he would have stayed out of harm's way.
"The driver is ultimately responsible," said Davis. "Or, the motor carrier is ultimately responsible."
The Austin Police Department did not issue the driver a citation for the accident. TxDOT is still trying to decide how to repair the bridge.
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