CCTV cameras are being installed on historic road bridges in the UK for the first time – in a crackdown on clumsy drivers who crash into them before speeding off.
Drivers smashing in to the bridges – many of which have listed status – cause around £1 million worth of damage each year.
The Canal and River Trust, which maintains the 2,800 bridges across the UK, says it cannot make insurance claims for the crashes because unscrupulous motorists drive away.
The trust installed its first CCTV camera this week on a bridge which has been hit six times in the last 18 months.
Caunsall Bridge, over the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal near Kidderminster, Worcs., is undergoing £30,000 of repair work.
The trust said that motorists failing to negotiate over narrow hump-back bridges means vital funds are being diverted from preservation work elsewhere.
Around £1 million of damage is caused to the bridges each year as a result of bungling motorists.
Nigel Crowe, the trust’s head of heritage, said: “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.”
The trust hopes signs warning motorists of CCTV will prompt them to slow down when approaching the bridges.