GPS guides hundreds of truckers into bridges

Tuesday September 25, 2012

It is not uncommon to use a GPS-connected tracking device while driving to a new location in your city, or when taking the highway longer distances. Unfortunately, many drivers will follow their tracking devices blindly, without being aware of potential hazards. According to new research, GPS-connected devices have guided truck and bus drivers onto restricted roads. These faulty directions have caused drivers to hit bridges in New York more than 200 times in the past two years. There have been similar accidents in Hartford and throughout Connecticut.

According to reports, 80 percent of the bridge-truck accidents involved parkways with low overpasses. These roadways are intended to be closed to commercial traffic, but GPS devices may not note proper restrictions on trucks and buses. The accidents are in high-frequency, costly, and can be deadly. According to data from the Transportation Department, there were 15,000 bridge strikes in 2010, resulting 214 deaths and 3,000 injuries.

Truckers often use navigation devices to obtain information about location, direction and bridge clearances. Many truck drivers who are on restricted parkways have arrived there because they are relying on consumer GPS units. Some commercial drivers have collided with bridges that have clearances of less than 10 feet. New York State has spent $3 million on repairing bridges and adding additional warning signs to prevent accidents.

Now some legislators want to improve GPS technology to best avoid these accidents and prevent future injury. Trucking industry advocates have also supported research to prevent truck-bridge strikes, urging states like Connecticut and New York to collaborate with trucking companies and technology firms to improve GPS tracking systems.

Source: Bloomberg, “Truckers Guided by GPS Said to Hit N.Y. Bridges 200 Times,” Jeff Plungis, Sept. 24, 2012

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