Thursday, October 23, 2008

Watch Your Head! Ouch!

Strange sightings on the Tampines Expressway (TPE)? Not really. Just a clumsy act of a 'limbo rock' by a Boeing 737-300.

Last week, a plane was being moved from Seletar Airport to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) training ground in Upper Changi Road. Without its wings and nose, the 'sausage-shaped' plane fuselage was being towed on a giant trailer. It was a midnight 'tour' and the 'excursion' was rudely disrupted when the trailer with the gigantic cargo was unable to pass under an overhead pedestrian bridge.

So the the crew helped to do a little 'limbo rock' by deflating the 22 tyres of the trailer to lower the height. After an hour of struggle, the plane inched gingerly under the bridge.

After the 'dance', it's time for a debate with the motion "The Plane Actually Hit the Bridge." The Police and the Land Transport Authority (LTA) are taking the side of the proposition while the transport company and the CAAS are standing on the opposition side.

The propositions claimed that 'scratches were found on the underside of the bridge'. The oppositions disagreed and said that 'the plane was not damaged in any way.'

The good news is that, the LTA engineers have declared the overhead bridge 'structurally sound' while the debate continues.

The incident at the TPE may be rare but it is not uncommon to find vehicles hitting road structures such as bridges and gantries. Since 2000, there have been 129 such cases.

In fact, a week after the commotion at the TPE, a trucker hit the maximum-height gantry on the road leading to the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (above). Its tipper hooked on the 4.5m gantry for 11 hours before it was removed.

An accident in Nov 2006 saw an over-height lorry pulled down the entire gantry with its unretracted crane (above). According to the LTA, 67% of the known cases involved drivers who forgot to retract the cranes fitted on their lorries before driving off.

If you think you are safe from these over-height accidents because you are driving a car, you are being complacent. Go and check your vehicle height. If you are driving models such as the Toyota Fortuner with roof rail, you stand a good chance of having the top scratched in commercial carparks with 1.80 m height limit.

Don't attempt any 'limbo rock' at Tanglin Shopping Centre (1.70m) or Marina Square (1.80m) with your Fortuner. The rule is simple: know your height limit and remember to take down your mountain bike from the car roof rack before squeezing your car into a tight carpark.

More so if you are a truck driver. Well, unless you are not deterred by a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and two years in jail for the offence of hitting road sturctures.

Drive safely and watch your top.

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