FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-12-11
GPS devices are not helping commercial truck drivers avoid accidents. In New York City, Long Island and Westchester County, many roads are designed to accommodate only passenger vehicles and prohibit large trucks and other over-sized commercial vehicles. The overpasses in these areas have clearances of 10 feet or less. Consumer GPS systems, however, are directing truck drivers to take routes with these bridges that they cannot clear. Since 2010, GPS-reliant truck drivers have hit bridges in New York more than 200 times. San Jose, San Francisco and Alameda County are also home to many roads unfriendly to truck navigation.
Bridge strike accidents – accidents caused when commercial trucks or other over-sized vehicles crash into overpasses that they are not meant to travel through— are dangerous and can cause injuries and fatalities. According to 2010 Transportation Department data, out of the 15,000 bridge strikes (by all types of vehicles); there were 214 deaths and 3,000 injuries.
A call for federal regulations
A New York Senator is campaigning for federal regulations to prevent the influx of accidents caused by GPS devices guiding commercial truck drivers to crash into bridges. He argues that 80 percent of New York bridge strikes are caused by GPS misdirection. Therefore, he has requested a federal investigation into the issue and asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to create national GPS standards that prevent the devices from guiding trucks onto restricted roadways.
A spokesperson for the American Trucking Association stated that the Association supports research on the causes of truck-bridge strikes. He suggests that states work with the trucking and GPS companies to ensure that the GPS maps are up to date with all important information. But he does not believe a national standard is necessary at this time.
These accidents are preventable
There are navigation systems made especially for truck drivers that include the relevant information on overpass heights, but many truck drivers do not use the commercial truck-specific navigation devices. Instead they use consumer GPS units that do not provide this crucial information. A simple change in GPS device use may also prevent these accidents from occurring.
Injured in a truck accident?
Overpass accidents can cause serious and fatal injuries. Truck accidents can also be complex legally because they involve complicated insurance and liability issues. If you have been injured in a bridge strike accident or other trucking accident, contact an experienced truck accident attorney to help you obtain the compensation you deserve to recover from your injuries. It is important to contact an attorney early on in the process to preserve evidence and protect your rights.