We've taken the unprecedented step of installing our first CCTV to catch ‘hit and run' motorists, who smash into an average of one bridge every week.
Hump-back bridges, synonymous with Britain's canal network, were built for the passage of horse-drawn carts, not for today's speeding motorists, who cause up to £1 million pounds of damage to bridges each year. The majority of accidents are ‘hit and run', leaving us unable to recoup the cost of the damage from drivers' insurers, and diverting vital funds away from work to conserve the nation's waterways.
We're hitting back at irresponsible drivers by installing its first CCTV sensor at an accident hump-back hot spot on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal near Kidderminster. Caunsall Bridge, which has been hit six times in the last 18 months, is currently undergoing £30,000 of repairs to its parapet following damage from a ‘hit and run' motorist. If the trial is successful, we will look at installing sensors at other hotspots across our 2,000 miles of canals and rivers.
Nigel Crowe, the Canal & River Trust's head of heritage, explains: “Whenever you go over a hump-back bridge in Britain you are likely to be going over a canal. These bridges are unique, many are listed as being of special architectural or historical significance, and when damaged they need to be painstakingly repaired at considerable cost.
“We've taken the unusual steps to install the sensor to this particular bridge as it has been repeatedly hit over the last few years. If it is a success, we'll look to install similar sensors to other hump-back accident hot spots.
"We are also working with the local authorities to improve signage and road markings, but frankly, if motorists just slowed down a bit and took more care and attention then they would stop this daily vandalism of our heritage. It really isn't rocket science – if you see a hump-back bridge sign then slow down and you will save yourself and us a great deal of expense and aggravation.”