On Saturday, a woman was killed and her husband injured after driving off the ramp of a partially demolished bridge in East Chicago. According to NWI, who covered the incident, the bridge had been closed since 2009 and had orange road closed signs and concrete barriers to indicate that the bridge was no longer in service.
Reports indicate that the couple had been following GPS instructions and were unfamiliar with the area. The incident happened in the morning. There is no information as to the visibility, but the car apparently drove around the concrete barricades before falling 37.5 feet off the end of the bridge. An article posted earlier this week indicated that barriers should have been blocking all three lanes, but one had been removed at some point.
The incident is still being investigated, but another man recently came forward and said that he nearly drove off the end of the bridge a month ago after being directed by his GPS to take the Cline Avenue Bridge as well. The man, Scott Green, said he did not see any ‘road closed’ signs, but noticed the bridge was ending and managed to stop his car before plunging off the end of the road.
The fact that it has happened more than once makes me wonder if this is a case of not paying enough attention to the road, or an actual oversight by mapping and navigational companies. The articles did not indicate what kind of GPS any of the victims were using, but I would be surprised if there was not a lawsuit filed in relation to this incident.
Regardless, this ought to be a reminder to everyone who uses an automotive GPS that updating those maps before you hit the road is absolutely essential! At the absolute minimum, maps ought to be updated at least once a year, although I’d recommend checking more often than that. Here are some resources for updating your DeLorme, Garmin, TomTom or Magellan unit.