Another Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tragedy Unfolds
The drive yesterday noon on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was described as blustery at best. Bridge officials had declared a Level 1 wind advisory, with winds over 40 mph.
The driver, 47, of Greenville, N.C., with about twenty years of experience, was at the 15 mile marker in the southbound lane ear the Eastern Shore side, when it is believed a gust of wind resulted in his tractor-trailer leaving the bridge.
I’ve written on the dangers of wind when pulling vans. There are several things to keep in mind about the wind:
- Basic wind speed is an average. As an average, that means at times the actual wind speeds will be higher.
- The wind gust factor is about 1.5. So a 40 mile wind, like yesterday on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, with winds gusting over 47 mph, could really result in winds over 53 MPH or greater. This is likely enough, if the conditions are right, to overturn a tractor pulling a lightly loaded van.
- Wind is totally unpredictable and variable. As the earth turns the sun heats the surface and creates a force that results in “wind” as warm air rises and cold air sinks.
Who’s in Charge Here?
It’s up to the driver to make the determination he or she can safely negotiate a windy stretch of road, bridge, or ridge. Some highways have windsocks for drivers. Usually weather reports will indicate the day’s forecast for wind gusts. Encourage drivers to check them and take note . . .
Although rescued from the water by a U.S. Navy helicopter, the driver died enroute to a hospital. Water temperature was estimated to be about 47 degrees F. at the time.
About thirty minutes after the crash, Chesapeake Bay Bridge officials hiked restrictions to Level 2, requiring tractor-trailers to be loaded with more than 30,000 pounds of cargo. Since its construction, this was the seventh truck to have gone off of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, with only one survivor to date.
Thank you for reading this.