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U.S. Senator: Investigate Trucker GPS Issues to Prevent Accidents

Posted on Nov 07, 2012

United States Senator Charles Schumer has written a formal letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation requesting an investigation into the connection between commercial truck bridge strike accidents and the use of GPS devices by truckers.

According to Schumer, 80 percent of bridge strikes in New York – the state that Schumer represents – are now caused by truckers who trust the directions provided by GPS devices. He cited a recent study conducted by the NY Department of Transportation that looked at such crashes since 2005, which examined 200 truck-bridge collisions. The cost of the truck accidents has been significant: on the Long Island Expressway alone, costs were above four million dollars. In addition, the state spent $3 million on warning signs near 300 bridges in an effort to curb the accidents.

How do these bridge strikes happen? Traffic safety experts believe that more and more commercial truck drivers are relying on technology to plan routes and move loads – and that many listen to the advice of the devices without looking at height or weight restrictions. Some GPS devices do not provide these restrictions – or have outdated information. While some bridge strikes took place before the popularity of GPS devices took place, initial data shows that they have increased significantly with the addition of computer mapping technology.  

Although the state put together a New York Bridge Strike Mitigation Task Force, a group that worked with GPS businesses to address the issue, Schumer believes that a nationwide solution may be needed and that an investigation could shed light on the issue.

The Department of Transportation has not responded to the request for an investigation.

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