GPS Responsible for Increasing Truck Crashes

Oct 22, 2009

A recent Associated Press report says that New York truckers may soon be penalized for driving on restricted roads directed by GPS devices.


New York Governor David Paterson has proposed penalties including confiscation of trucks and even jail time for drivers who use GPS to take more hazardous routes and end up in situations such as striking low bridges.


“To our knowledge, no other state has similar legislation,” said Clayton Boyce of the American Trucking Association.


“Most trucking companies rely on GPS services that are specifically for trucks and route them away from restricted roads,” he said. “Most of our members also use dispatching and fleet management systems that direct and track the vehicles by truck GPS services.”


The safety group Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety said that trucks driving on restricted roads is a fact of life on the nation’s highways and something that will become an ever-increasing problem as more drivers use GPS technology.  Senior research director Gerald Donaldson says that GPS adds to the growing number of distractions drivers deal with on a daily basis.


“GPS is the heart of it,” said Donaldson, who predicts other states will soon enact similar restrictions.

AP reported that New York state alone has seen more than 1,400 bridge strikes in the past 15 years, including 46 so far this year in suburban Westchester County, testing many old bridges already in need of repair. One bridge in Westchester was hit nine times this year.


“This sort of culture of just following the GPS and almost ignoring the road signs has created this public hazard,” Paterson said. “It’s only a matter of time before someone is killed or a truck carrying chemicals or explosives hits a bridge.”


The bill would increase penalties for illegally using parkways and require all large commercial trucks to use GPS devices that route them away from restricted roads. It would also hold trucking companies or their insurance carriers responsible for repairs and cleanup after bridge strikes.

The bill could hit the Legislature as early as January, AP reported.


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