Last week, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer called on the Department of Transportation to investigate the increasing number of commercial truck bridge strikes across the country – accidents that a statewide investigation revealed were largely caused by the use of GPS technology by truckers. According to the report, bridge strike accidents have increased by 80 percent because truck drivers are relying too heavily on GPS and navigational device information that may be old or inaccurate.
Unfortunately, this is not the only danger of GPS devices in commercial trucks. While new navigational equipment often helps improve the lives of truckers and makes it easier for them to route and plan, there are several downsides to GPS – downsides that can often lead to truck accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
How can GPS use increase the number of truck accidents?
- Bridge strikes. While GPS units often know the best and fastest route to get from point A to point B, they don’t know what kind of vehicle you are driving and often don’t know the restrictions on certain roads. When truckers blindly trust their GPS system, they could end up on a road with bridges with low clearance. The result? A huge increase in bridge strikes, which can cost millions in infrastructure damage, cause pile-ups, and injure both those on and near the bridge.
- Distracted driving. Although GPS units have their advantages, they also require that drivers look away from the road to consult a screen. While these devices are still legal for truckers to use, they often require the driver to take their eyes off of the road, their hands off of the wheel, and their mind off of the road.
- Driving on truck-restricted roads. When a GPS unit suggests a driving route, it may have old and outdated information about road restrictions or it simply may not tell a driver about height and weight restrictions at all. Trucks could be told to go on highways that do not even allow heavy trucks for a variety of reasons – or roads that do not allow trucks carrying hazardous materials.
- Taking your brain out of the driving equation. The general issue with GPS devices is that they allow truckers to stop thinking about many aspects of their job. They simply turn when the device says to turn. While this can make life easier in many ways, it can also lead to crashes.
Have you been involved in a Virginia truck accident that may have been caused by a GPS device? Speak with the Virginia Beach personal injury attorneys at Shapiro & Appleton today.