Another bridge bashed

John Frewen-Lord posted this comment on Metric Views but was unable to add the pictures that he took at the scene. We can, and accordingly we have made it the subject of a short article.

“@Charlie P
2 July 2015

Bridge bash_20150702-1

Just this afternoon I witnessed an accident that shows your arguments for having imperial and metric side by side to be completely fallacious, and in fact are dangerous. At around 16.30, I witnessed a van crash into a low bridge (this was a low bridge I reported on not so long ago, where dual signs reading 2.4 m and 7′-9″ replaced an imperial-only sign, and which had drastically reduced the number of vans crashing into this bridge).

I called the police, who asked that I remain on the scene in order that I could give a statement. Eventually a policeman on a motorcycle arrived, and, after extensive interviewing of the van driver (who miraculously was not hurt, thanks to his seat belt and airbag), finally took my statement. I asked the policeman what he thought was the reason the van driver crashed into the bridge, as the Bridge bash_20150702-2sign is quite clear. The policeman’s reply was that the driver saw the sign clearly enough, but, in the heat of the moment, confused the feet with the metres, and read the sign as 7.9 m.

You may say that this should not have happened, but lots of things should not happen but do, and metric-Imperial mix-ups are all too common. Your arguments for retaining Imperial, as evidenced by this accident, are a danger to the safety and well-being of British society, and, I would respectfully suggest, are not something you should be proud of.”

48 thoughts on “Another bridge bashed”

  1. For me, this accident shows that dual-unit signs are also not good enough. Both dual-unit or imperial only restrictions are safety hazards in my opinion.

    Just the circular metric-only roundel saying 2.4 m should be enough (with optional supplementary plates where needed). We don’t need 8 or 9 different signs to say the same thing (I believe the maximum headroom warning triangle should also be deprecated).


  2. Having two measures, metric and Imperial, on height restriction signs, can cause confusion. However, what I think is more important, is the driver not being able to judge how high 2.4 m is, and not being able to judge how high 7.9 m is. It seems unbelievable that the driver would judge that low bridge to have a height clearance of 7.9 m. Perhaps the driver, is a victim of the mixed measure situation, and has never really used metric measures. Would he know the height of his van, in metric?


  3. I’m curious to know if the driver was British or foreign. If British could this be a result of a muddled education? Learning metres in the school but not getting a feel for metres due to encountering feet and inches outside the school? I would suspect that a person who knows only metres would see that the bridge was not almost 8 m high.

    Also, aren’t Lorry drivers required to post a sign in their cab stating the height only in feet and inches? Would not having a sign in metres also cause confusion? If he thought 7-9 was metres, what did he think the 2.4 meant?


  4. Oh dear; where do I start! I should be honoured to have a whole article dedicated to me but…

    At first glance I thought this was going to be a spoof or tongue-in-cheek article. But John Frewen-Lord’s tone soon made it clear that it was a truly genuine attempt to prove that metric-only road signs would prevent all bridge strikes! And that is what made it so’ painful to read. I am truly surprised and disappointed, that the editor here chose to try and dignify it by creating a new article from it.

    In the first paragraph, the first sentence contains a shedload of textbook logical fallacies:

    1. It asserts a falsehood, claiming that I have been arguing to have imperial and metric side by side.

    2. It makes the hasty generalisation that a sample of one proves the general case.

    3. It asserts that if the general case is proven (which it isn’t) that all dissenting arguments are implicitly fallacious.

    4. It asserts that dissenting arguments are dangerous.

    The second sentence of the first paragraph asserts that a correlation between having new dual-measure-signs and a reduction in accidents implies a causal relationship, which we (should) all know is nonsense.

    In the third paragraph (relying on the hearsay he relays in the second paragraph**) he asserts that the single sample is evidence that my caution over forcing in metric where it isn’t wanted or needed is “a danger to the safety and well-being of British society”!

    Well John Frewen-Lord, please provide us with a theory for why drivers in metric-only counties also hit low bridges, even though they are signed with metric-only signs, as evidenced by the pictures in these articles:

    Presumably you believe that these stories prove that metric-only signs caused these accidents – or if not, why not?


    1. The local media reported that the van driver in the accident witnessed by John Frewen-Lord told them: “It has been a busy day for me. I am not used to driving that van.”ref

    2. There is a sign, that the van must have passed, prohibiting vehicles over 2.4 m / 7ft-9in high from entering the road that leads to that bridge.ref


  5. @Charlie P;

    “Oh dear; where do I start!”

    Don’t bother – you’re fighting a lost cause.


  6. If the sign shown in the photo said only 7’9″ I wouldn’t understand it because I have no familiarity with imperial measures.
    The sign as it is with dual units gives too much information to decipher when driving at speed and taking in all that information is probably as dangerous as reading a short text message.
    If the sign simply showed 2.4m, recognition would be instantaneous for me.
    I realise that some older drivers would instananeously recognise the 7’9″ and for them the metric dimension might be unfamiliar but considering that metric measures have been taught in schools for the last forty or fifty years I think that they are the ones in the minority and the ones who need to adapt rather than forcing everyone else to regress.
    I believe it is a legal requirement to have a sign in the cab of the truck stating the working height of the vehicle. Imperial dimensions, minimum 40mm high, are mandatory, metric dimensions are discretionary and there is a restriction of 50mm on height difference of the font stating the dimensions. Surely this should simply be reversed to give metric as the primary dimension. Britain is officially a metric country but once again the tail is wagging the dog.


  7. UK law requires that British vehicles that are more than 3 metres in height and foreign vehicles that are more than 4 metres in height must have a notice that is visible to the driver giving their height in feet and inches. This suggests to me that EU member states can prohibit vehicles that are over 4 metres in height from entering their territory.
    The reports of bridge-strikes in France and Germany begs the question “Would it be reasonable for the EU to require that ALL vehicles that are over 3 metres in height have a notice that is visible to the driver giving the vehicle’s height”? If such a requirement were passed, I suspect that there will be no requirement to include feet and inches on the notice.


  8. People DO get confused though…

    A personal example from my own life, as a Scout in my mid teens (and having had, from what I recall, an almost exclusively metric education) was looking forward to our first abseiling trip to what was described as a “30 foot tower” in Bedfordshire. It sounded absolutely massive (and quite scary) at the time so I was quite disappointed when it turned out to be less than 10 m.

    In more recent years though I’ve been considerably more paranoid to the point where I will avoid driving my car, which the owners manual usefully states from the tips of the door mirrors is 1999 mm wide (with NO imperial equivalent) past signs where the width limit shows only 6′-6″ with no metric equivalent… and when there is a dual unit sign I find myself consciously double-checking that the letter m is at the end of the section I’m reading, more so since although the proper dual sign should show metric at the top and imperial at the bottom I’ve recently seen modified signs in motorway road works that show imperial on top and metric on the bottom.

    And having studied maths at A-level I would hope I could be considered more than competent with numbers!

    Replacing these dual-unit signs with metric only ones can’t come soon enough in my view. Next job… replace the mandatory imperial height indication in HGV cabs with a metric one and then we can get rid of those horrible dual unit signs for good.


  9. This won’t entirely make sense, but that’s the point of confusion, isn’t it?

    Was there any public education about the new signage? Do drivers know what it means? Given that you also use “m” as an abbreviation for miles in the UK (we use “mi”), is there any chance drivers could be interpreting the metric declaration as a distance ahead in miles, and not as an alternate statement of the low clearance.

    Then they get to the obstacle and suddenly it is not 2.4 miles ahead any more.


  10. I think it’s fair to say that bridge strikes are likely to happen whether the signs are in metric or imperial. Take this article from the United States:

    Now take this article from Australia:

    Ditto for the UK:

    So bridge strikes are likely to happen whether the signs are in metric or imperial

    This does not mean that signs are useless but it does show that the mere presence of signs does not guarantee that accidents won’t happen. However, when there is confusion between metres and feet and inches, this only exacerbates the problem. I believe the best way forward is to eliminate as many low bridges as possible, but also by larger and clearer signs. It would also help in the UK if the signs were changed to metric only, as this could help to prevent accidents from foreign lorry drivers, who are overrepresented in the statistics.


  11. The problem with imperial only signage in the cab is that it’s ‘cluttered’ and takes longer to read and compare.
    Imagine a driver in an unfamiliar vehicle with an in-cab sign showing 11’11” approaching a bridge, at speed, with a sign displaying 11’1″.
    With metric-only signs (in cab and on sign) your brain only needs to register two numbers: it’s much quicker to do a mental comparison between 3.6m and 3.4m


  12. I’m a bit confused here, how can anyone confuse metres and feet? Even if you never had learnt metric surely you would know the symbols for ft & ins? Plus metres are clearly signed too? Maybe. I might miss read speed signs and drive using km/h instead of mph? And when someone asks why am I driving so slow I can say sorry I got confused!


  13. @Lee Kelly:

    Many professionals often get confused over apparently simple things. Experienced airline pilots have crashed planes because they were looking at the wrong instruments, or even misinterpreted the correct instruments. Just recently, a plane crashed in the far east because both captain and first officer, after the plane suffered an engine failure, then agreed to shut down the good engine instead of the one that had failed. Unfortunately, by the time they realised their mistake, the plane had lost too much altitude to recover.

    The van driver in this bridge incident admitted he’d had a long day. It would appear that seeing the two values on the sign simply confused his brain for long enough before he realised his van wasn’t going to make it. Certainly, he showed no sign of slowing down until the very last second.


  14. @Modernman
    The ft-in values posted on available headroom signs have to be in multiples of 3 inches (rounded down). So a safe height (which must be at least 3 inches less than the measured clearance) of 11′-1″ would be signed as 11′-0″.


  15. I cannot believe we are still discussing if we need road signs in feet and inches in the 21st century when nothing on or in a modern road vehicle is designed in those old units. When will the DfT wake up from its from its hibernation and notice the complete and utter mess it has got the country into with its failure to adopt a forward-looking policy for road signs?


  16. My message wasn’t meant to be offensive, I was just pointing out that I drive for a living for a car rental company and sometimes work 12 hrs a day and I could drive a car or a van, we don’t have height shown on the vans except for the Luton vans. So I have a split second before I get to a bridge to know whether it will fit, I was on a delivery and a lorry got stuck on a bridge that it wasn’t meant to be on. I think the van and lorry driver were probably rushed to get a job done & just wasn’t thinking.


  17. @John Frewen-Lord
    What evidence do you have that the driver was confused by seeing two values on the sign – or is that another of your unsupported assertions? The van had already passed (driver not noticed, misunderstood, ignored, or whatever) the first sign on that road prohibiting vehicles over 2.4 m / 7ft-9in high from passing, about 140 metres earlier. He had ample time to stop and walk back to check it before arriving at the reason for that sign – but he presumably didn’t.

    Misleading constructions blaming imperial or dual information, when there is no supporting evidence or logically reasoned argument, such as the one you are making here, is, I believe, one of the main reasons that the public are reluctant to come aboard the force-metric-at-any-cost bandwagon.

    I agree with you in that I too cannot believe we are still discussing if we need road signs in feet and inches in the 21st century. My reason differs though, because as I understand it, the signs are for the drivers to read (and most of them clearly prefer imperial – ref the recent UKMA survey), and therefore not connected with the units used in the specifications of the driven vehicle. The DfT, or at least their political masters, rightly realise that, and presumably reject the idea of change for change’s sake. You need to realise too that the UK has one of the world’s best road safety records, and they presumably do not want to make any unnecessary changes that might jeopardise that.


  18. In this particular incident the bridge also has a huge red sign saying “Very Low Bridge Check Headroom” alongside and before the dual height sign, which one would YOU (as a average human) be reading? This is very likely a case of too much information.
    One sign, one measure, one purpose would be my view.

    This typically UK habit of adding a whole sentence to a simple sign, makes it impossible to read whilst in traffic, it just makes the international sign useless.


  19. @BrianAC:

    Spot on! The key is to maximize the signal/noise ratio, which can be done most easily by reducing the denominator (i.e. noise).

    Too much information and clutter is often the bane of our existence!


  20. I agree with Ezra’s comment. In the UK it would appear that you have the following issues.

    * Like everywhere else you have low bridges.
    * These lead to bridge strikes by high vehicles.
    * Bridge strikes occur whether the signs are posted in imperial, metric or both.

    The UK has a particular problem with bridge strikes because:
    * Foreign lorry drivers don’t understand imperial measures.
    * Dual signs are less readable than single unit signs.

    This means that
    * Imperial only signs are being phased out.
    * The dual signs that replace them are too busy, and so are less readable.

    This leaves the UK with the following choices:
    * Stick with dual signs
    * Transition to metric only signs after a public education campaign.

    Of course the DfT may think it less trouble to suffer more bridge strikes rather than switching to metric only signs.


  21. To continue the line of reasoning from Michael Glass:

    * UK drivers are already familiar with metric-only height restrictions – they are used on all garage forecourts, and many other off road locations.

    * The 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals does not authorise the use of height restriction signs in any unit other than metres.

    * The UK is a signatory of the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals.

    Unfortunately, logic plays no part in the continuing policy of refusing to upgrade the UK’s road signs to metric units.


  22. @M
    You say “Unfortunately, logic plays no part in the continuing policy of refusing to upgrade the UK’s road signs to metric units.”

    On the contrary, I believe that the logic is very clear: the powers that be believe that the benefit to the UK from keeping them the way they are will outweigh any benefit from changing them.


  23. @Charlie P:

    You are wrong and M is correct. LOGIC decrees the use of metric-only signs. The ‘powers that be’, to use your terminology, use emotion, not logic, in their insistence on retaining imperial. It’s not hard to learn metric units – 98% of the world’s population manage it every day of their lives, so why can’t the UK? That’s what I find baffling – why a few luddites still want to retain imperial units when logic – and the wellbeing of the UK in its trade with the rest of the world – would dictate that its time is well past.


  24. Well, the metric system is still far from perfect: but in order to improve it, first of all, the whole world should use it in everyday life! And not only in science and engineering…

    The real problem probably is that the world – both individuals and societies – has in some way “lost its future”: and thus, where the metric system is already completely adopted, there doesn’t seem to be a will to improve it; and where it still isn’t (completely) adopted, an anachronistic measurement mess still reigns, among the apparent indifference of both most of the people and “politicians” (sic!).

    So, let’s hope that we’ll get out of this global crisis, sooner or later – and recreate a new sense of modernity, if one can say so.

    … Translation: if nobody cares (probably because most people aren’t really in the condition to care about important things and decide about them, in today’s society), sadly almost nothing changes, nor evolves (towards a common progress).


  25. @ Charlie P says: 2015-07-10 at 15:03

    Absolute piffle.
    Yes, the logic is very clear. However the powers that be do not use logic. In fact their actions are often quite baffling.
    Their is no logic whatsoever in the UK running two totally incompatible types of measurement side by side (and then one under the other if you want to be pedantic), in fact it is total lunacy, totally pointless and certainly does not benefit the country in any way whatsoever.
    Their is also no logic in using a measurement system that has not been taught in UK schools to any degree for over 40 years.


  26. So we see John Frewen-Lord’s case has collapsed. No evidence that the signs played any part in the incident has come to light. We have seen no evidence that dual signs are more dangerous than imperial only.

    In fact, the article was just another in the tradition of attempting to hoodwink readers into believing that metric is good and imperial is bad. We still haven’t seen a shred of credible logic that would convince a neutral observer that metric units should be forced where they haven’t already been fully adopted.

    @John Frewen-Lord
    Let’s take a look at your latest logic errors…

    1. The point is not whether it is easy to learn the metric system: LOGIC already tells us that most of the British population have already learnt it. Reality shows us that as the UK punch above their weight in science, engineering and technology (all largely metric only domains), they must have fully mastered it. So do not insult the intelligence of the British – that will not help win support for the objectives of this association.

    2. The UK are not suffering from a deficiency of wellbeing or of trade with the rest of the world, quite the opposite in fact. So LOGIC would say why risk compromising that, especially given the results of the recent UKMA survey – the majority of Brits still wish to use imperial outside of where metric is mandated. Again, your “luddite” charge can do nothing but harm the objectives of this association.

    You seem to have had another logic failure too. The logic of using two systems is very clear, let me explain (as if I need to!)… The two systems only exist because the metric system was added as a second one – not vice-versa. Yes, people have learnt the metric system, and are clearly quite adept at using it at work. However, people also want to keep the first system, and see no current need to force any further change, whilst at the same time accepting the second system as a means to an end in business and commerce. As the two systems live in perfect harmony, why upset the apple cart?


  27. @CharlieP
    “The UK are not suffering a deficiency of … trade with the rest of the world”.

    From the web:
    “The United Kingdom recorded a trade deficit of 393 GBP Million in May of 2015, following an upwardly revised 1834 GBP Million in April. It is the lowest trade gap since June of 2013. Balance of Trade in the United Kingdom averaged -1290.80 GBP Million from 1955 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 2946 GBP Million in March of 1981 and a record low of -5397 GBP Million in March of 2008.

    Since 1998, the United Kingdom has been running consistent trade deficits mainly due to increase in demand of consumer goods, decline in manufacturing, appreciation of the GBP and deterioration in oil and gas production. In 2013, the biggest trade deficits were recorded with Germany, China, and the Netherlands. The biggest trade surpluses were recorded with United States, Ireland and United Arab Emirates.”


  28. @ Charlie P:

    You really do like clutching at straws.

    You say about my post: “What evidence do you have that the driver was confused by seeing two values on the sign – or is that another of your unsupported assertions?” Read my post – CAREFULLY – and you will see that I simply reported on what the investigating POLICEMAN said to me, based on what the van driver had said to the policeman – nothing more, nothing less.

    You also say: “So we see John Frewen-Lord’s case has collapsed. No evidence that the signs played any part in the incident has come to light. We have seen no evidence that dual signs are more dangerous than imperial only.” That is in complete contradiction to what the policeman stated to me! I never made a ‘case’ – again, I simply reported on what was said to me.

    Charlie P – you sound like a lawyer, trying to introduce “facts” and other extraneous material in an attempt to confuse everyone and justify your own unfounded ‘case’. Well, it may work with some, but not with me. You are simply wrong, and that is that.


  29. @Wilfred
    Yes very clever; but do you have any evidence showing that any UK trade deficit is down to the use of imperial units on road signs – the context (as if you didn’t know) of this discussion.

    Shifting out of the original context to try to score points is yet another logical fallacy. Try addressing the real argument please.


  30. @John Frewen-Lord
    Let me remind you; “hearsay” is not evidence. And even if the policeman did tell you that, had it occurred to you that it may not be a complete explanation for the incident? Was the driver also confused by the sign prohibiting the passage of his vehicle, about 140 metres earlier on the same road? Or did he just fail to see either sign? And you more than “simply reported on what was said to me”; you tried to knit it into a case and then claimed: “Your arguments for retaining Imperial, as evidenced by this accident, are a danger to the safety and well-being of British society”!

    The public are not that gullible you know. The nonsense you wrote, such as “I witnessed an accident that shows your arguments for having imperial and metric side by side to be completely fallacious, and in fact are dangerous” is not going to do anything other than damage the objectives of this association.

    Another logical fallacy is the “appeal to authority”, suggesting or implying, perhaps, that an argument must be true because a person holding authority (such as a policeman) asserts it is true.


  31. @ Charlie P
    Re your response to Wilfred: It was YOU who brought up the subject about Britain’s trade with the rest of the world. Wilfred didn’t shift from the original context, he merely corrected your erroneous assertion.
    John Frewen-Lord states that the van driver told the police officer that he was confused by the mixed measurements. I can well believe that because I would be too. Deciphering an overload of information whilst driving can be very difficult. Which is why the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic signs recommends simple pictorial signage.
    When I started work in an architects office in the early seventies I had several sheets of ergonomic information relating to the design of public toilets which was given both in imperial and metric. I ended up having to erase the imperial measurements from the sheets. Not just because they were unnecessary given that architecture had progressed since the data was produced but because the extra information was confusing me and slowing down my work. That was in a drawing office. Driving a van at speed on the road and being confused by too much information introduces an extra danger.


  32. @Charlie P @BrianAC You seem to have had another logic failure too. The logic of using two systems is very clear, let me explain….

    Oh yes, I see my logic failure now. 95% to 98% of the world uses metric (pretty much exclusively), so we in the UK have to be different and use a second (non) system that no one else in the world uses and very few, even in UK understand, in order to improve their failed education. We put them on road signs at critical points so all motorists can be educated while their brains have nothing else to do. Pure logic CP style. I totally agree with you that the second should not be added without first removing the outdated units, my prime point of issue.

    My logic failure to understand that something like 50 years of metric education in UK schools, meaning that pretty much any driver under retirement age would have had at least some metric education at school, plus they may well have been exposed to metric in the supermarket if they have eaten in the last 45 years. This education causes a failure in understanding of Imperial. The most logical place to re-educate people is on the death-defying roads of UK, the only place in UK where Imperial is used officially. Yes pure logic of course.

    My logic failure extends to me not seeing the logic in having a different method of measures on the driver visible parts of roads and highways, while metric is used on roadside markers, the canals and waterways (by law), running (presumably) through land over which the public has access, also metric used on the railways (slowly, like the trains), again running (partly) through land over which the public has access.

    My logic failure also is evident in not seeing the advantages of our government Ordnance Survey department producing world class maps using exclusively metric units from which road map makers can gain experience of converting (almost) everything to different units whilst still keeping the 1 km grid squares. This ensures road users can get the value of trying to shoe-horn miles into a km grid reference, both very useful world beating exercises. Total logic of course.

    Well Charlie P, you have beaten me, like ARM says, you have roundly trounced several oft-repeated logical fallacies perpetuated herein, though like my other failures I fail to see where. Well done! Gold star plus.


  33. @Cliff
    It wasn’t me who raised it, I was responding to John Frewen-Lord’s remark: “That’s what I find baffling – why a few luddites still want to retain imperial units when logic – and the wellbeing of the UK in its trade with the rest of the world – would dictate that its time is well past.”

    You see, the context was the implication that using imperial units was the problem. And we still have not seen any evidence at all that supports such continual assertions here.

    All we keep seeing is irrational bluster, “supported” by nothing more than the use of logical fallacy after logical fallacy.


  34. As I read it, the problem was that the driver was confused by the two measures and read the feet as metres. Dual signs are inherently confusing. However, imperial only signs leave foreign drivers in the dark about the height of low bridges. Hence the use of dual signs.

    A better solution would be to have a public education campaign and then have metric only signs for heights and widths. It worked in Australia when we changed all our road signs, and it could work in the UK, if there was the political will.

    Of course, the best solution of all would be to eliminate the low bridges. However, considering the cost of that undertaking I don’t think there would be any rush to put that into practice.


  35. Of course it could also be that as this was a drag and drop trailer, the height shown in the cab would be the cab height, no relationship whatsoever to the height of the trailer.
    The cab height (as I understand the law) would be posted in the cab in feet and inches. The trailer height? This would depend on the trailer attached, the dimensions of which would be stated somewhere on the trailer and would almost certainly be metric. Pure logic D(a)fT style.


  36. Despite being all metric otherwise, Irish height and width signs remain Imperial top, metric bottom for safety reasons. We find it interesting that the U.K., with all-Imperial roads, would give prominence to metric in its new dual-unit signs. It appears that British transport authorities have been duped or misled by pro-metric agitators. Not giving Imperial prominence makes no sense otherwise. Many signs have only Imperial. Having metric at the top favours foreign drivers, rather than domestic motorists.

    Editor. Our article on road signs in the Republic of Ireland may be found here:


  37. @ Irish Anti-Metric League

    Metric measurement has been taught in the UK for over forty years now. You have to be quite old never to have learnt the metric system. Even many older British drivers are perfectly familiar with metric units on road signs from driving abroad (or simply seeing the metric road signs). To argue that having metric at the top of the sign favours ‘foreign drivers, rather than domestic motorists’ is a stupid argument. All drivers are road users, whether you live in the country or just happen to be passing through, whether you are a local, a national of the country, or a foreign tourist or commercial driver. Road signs are not put up to ‘favour’ domestic, local or regional drivers over any other group. The important thing is that the signs are clear and contain information that everybody understands. Since the decision has been taken to show both metric and imperial information on signs in the UK, it makes perfect sense for the more prominent information to be in the units taught as the country’s official measurements.


  38. “Having metric at the top favours foreign drivers, rather than domestic motorists.”

    When an English anti-metric campaigner makes an argument like that I feel insulted. You’re basically saying that I’m either too stupid to learn a system of measures that almost every foreigner on the planet has no problem with or I am unable to apply what I learned at school to real life situations.

    I make no apologies for my next comment – if you’re unwilling or unable to take the time to learn don’t assume that everybody else around you is the same.


  39. @ Irish Anti-Metric League says: 2015-07-15 at 22:59 Having metric at the top favours foreign drivers, rather than domestic motorists.

    ????? This is totally wrong. In the UK, students have been taught using SI in schools for 50 years (FIFTY YEARS) now, cgs and mks preceded that even. Anyone under 60 years would either understand metric, or have to admit to a failed education. This myth that ‘metric is for foreigners’ makes a total nonsense of the UK education system.

    You say ‘It appears that British transport authorities have been duped or misled by pro-metric agitators’.
    I say, it makes a clear statement that SI is the correct system of units to use in UK, supporting our 50 years of metric education, for once the DfT has got it right.

    What you do in the Irish Republic is your own affair, but there will always be the left-overs from Imperial whatever happens, and the odd (very odd) kph also. Apart from that it seems to me, as a foreigner, (or fellow EU citizen if you will,) your cause is already over.


  40. @derekp,

    “Difficult to explain” seems to understate it. Does not the “number 197 to Peckham” have a regular route on designated roads with designated stops. I would understand a charter bus not understanding all limitations on route as it probably has a different destination every day it is in service, but I fail to understand how this can occur on a regular city bus route. Perhaps I have a wrong understanding based on American city buses.


  41. @derekp/John Steel

    I do not know about this incident, but similar in the past have been due to a double-decker bus being used in place of a single-decker, without telling the driver! One would think that apart from the driver, the schedulers would also be aware of the height restriction on the route and should not send the vehicle out.
    Clearly there are serious issues other than the signs, but a muddled mix does ensure that none of us ever get to fully relate the height of the vehicle we happen to be driving with the height (or width) restriction of the route we happen to be on at the time. From this stems an acute lack of spatial awareness that Brits seem to suffer more than most.


  42. @ John Steele

    The obvious thing to think is that the bus was not following the designated route, but the news article makes no mention of that. Clearly if the bus cannot pass under the bridge, it cannot be on the right route. Even a dual sign will not help if the driver thinks he is on the usual route but has inadvertently diverted from it. My experience is that passengers sometimes call out to the driver when that happens, but that may not be the case in South London, or the passengers may not have noticed themselves. Also, buses are sometimes diverted from their normal route because of road works. Perhaps that is what happened and the driver took a wrong turn. At least nobody appears to have been too seriously hurt.


  43. @BrianAC
    You said: “From this stems an acute lack of spatial awareness that Brits seem to suffer more than most.”

    Another logical fallacy is the non sequitur. This is that the conclusion is not supported by the evidence and does not follow from the premises.

    You have not shown that Brits, or even just people working in Britain, are less spatially aware than non-Brits, let alone that the cause is dual-unit height signs!


  44. @Charlie P, Give it a rest man. I am entitled to express an opinion just as you are.
    Maybe all my posts should contain the caveat THIS IS MY OPINION, (IMHO).

    OK big man, show me the evidence that this is not the case, where is this evidence of which YOU speak?
    The evidence for me is in the vast majority of adverts on the Internet where advertisers don’t seem to know if a dimension is inches or cm. The evidence for me it the stupid conversions and errors of some magnitude reported in papers and on TV. For me it is the use of strange ‘units’ like football fields, which have a vast range of sizes (oh, there I go again, I have never seen a football field, I have no proof of that either). Forgive me Charlie P if I fail to note and record every event as future proof just for the likes of you. Using a mix of measures cannot possibly be conducive to a good understanding of distance, size or weight.

    As someone else said, you sound like a lawyer. No, I have not shown any evidence, I am not in a court of law and I am not on trial for any crime committed against humanity.

    I have spent 40 years traveling the globe, I do have some knowledge of other cultures and practices, I do know I was amazed at how well others (ordinary folk, like me) can estimate distances such as an area of land or the size of a packing box or cabinet vis-a-vis those that those that spend a large portion of their life income on a house, not even knowing its size and those that cannot even get the size of things right using a ruler. Sorry, I don’t have hard evidence of that either, but it crops up from time to time.


  45. @BrianAC
    Opinions are one thing, groundless assertions are another.

    IMHO the latter, specifically the groundless assertions that blame the UK’s reluctance to take metric units to heart in place of imperial, outside of business/commerce/government admin/etc work, for all the UK’s woes, including imaginary and non-existant woes, play a large part in undermining the work of this association.

    If you treat the readers like fools they may well appear to you to behave like fools. If you treat the readers with respect by giving them only credible and supported factual information and declaring and attributing what is nothing more than personal opinion, and they may well pay attention. I won’t hold my breath though.


  46. It is unfortunate, then, that TPTB are supported in their `emotion’ by UKMA—who as recently as 2014 were campaigning for precisely these signs to be compulsory in TSRGD 20102015. DFT have since agreed to do this. Presumably, those in charge of UKMA are very happy about this perpetuated muddle?

    OTOH, you can’t trust either what the motorist said about this or what the police employee told you about it. The red roundels are prohibition signs and crashing a >2.4 m high motor vehicle into a bridge where that is the limit is almost certainly a criminal offence which both parties were studiously trying to ignore. The motorist had probably been exceeding imperial-only speed prohibitions all day. But if he had been pulled for that, then he would have had to come out with a different excuse—enabling the police employee to turn a blind eye to that crime, instead.


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