Sunday, March 18, 2012

Truckers hitting bridges; Senator wants to regulate GPS

Bridge truck strike

New York Senator Charles Schumer says too many trucks and buses are hitting bridges and that the government should do something about it. He may want to talk to Apple; they seem to be finding out that the mapping business is pretty complicated. Seriously, there are always going to be map errors, but perhaps it should be illegal for truckers and bus drivers to use consumer GPS, as opposed to a device that at least attempts to consider height and other restrictions.

Consider the following:

  • Approximately 80% of NY state bridge strikes are caused by incorrect GPS directions
  • In the past two years, 200 bridge strikes have been recorded in NYC, Westchester County and Long Island
  • Earlier this year there were four bridge strikes in a single day in Connecticut
  • According to NHTSA data, 214 deaths and 3,000 injuries resulted from 15,000 bridge strikes in 2010

When a reporter for asked for comment, the industry was unusually quiet:

Ted Gartner, a spokesman for GPS device maker Garmin Ltd. (GRMN), based in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment. Lea Armstrong, a spokeswoman for Amsterdam- based TomTom NV (TMOAF), Europe’s largest producer of portable navigation devices, didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

The American Trucking Association supports research and says “a call for national standards appears premature.”

Via Bloomberg; image courtesy twodolla.


About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. Common sense. It’s called common sense. This is not something that should be a problem.

  2. Rick Howard says:

    It is crazy to blame a GPS when an idiot isn’t paying attention to the height of his/her truck. However, anything is possible in the nanny state of NY under Schumer’s watch. Expect GPS manufactures to be legally liable soon there along with big gulp makers.

  3. I guarantee my company will hold the driver responsible for hitting a bridge whether a GPS is in use or not. Our truck heights (which vary from truck to truck) are posted in large letters right on the dash.

  4. What I don’t understand here is why they are going after the GPS companies when it’s clearly the fault of the prescription eyeglass makers. Usually there’s a sign before the bridge that indicates the clearance and obviously these drivers cannot read them.

    Using the logic above, blaming the GPS directions instead of the driver who opted to drive that way, I should be able to run red lights and stop signs everywhere until Garmin adds an instruction like “In 300 metres, stop at the white line then go straight”.

  5. This is how we lose freedoms, we give it away because of perceived problems that we are convinced only government can solve. Stop it.

  6. I don’t see this being a gps problem this a problem for anyone driving a truck with any map. Most maps don’t post bridge or overpass heights, but roads do have signs about overpass heights. I don’t see gps companies being any more responsible than any map company.

  7. Well, if this picture is an example, it’s a rental truck and probably not driven by a regular truck driver, and the height sign is posted 25 feet from the bridge. So if the driver is aware of the truck height, sees the sign, there isn’t time to say “Oh, sh*t”, let alone stop.

  8. My fellow Americans, if elected as Senator of these United Sates, I vow to put forth a long-term solution to this problem by drafting a bill to regulate all vehicle heights, so not only will this situation be forever avoided, but all drivers will be free to bring their vehicles through any of the drive-thru windows found throughout this great land of ours.

    I’m DAllen and I approve this message.

  9. – 80% of strikes involve a GPS
    – 214 deaths in 2012

    Perhaps they SHOULD be regulated inside high clearence trucks. We already have lane assist, recognition of round-abouts, speed camera databases etc. A bridge height database or at least special routing that avoids over-head road crossings seems highly plausable.

    I don’t agree with every aspect of our lives being regulated by government but sometimes it’s warranted. Sometimes regulations exist to protect us not from ourselves, but from those without care or common sense. At least until a better solution comes along.

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