Posted in: Infrastructure,
by Gregg Laskoski on Nov 6, 2012 06:00 AM
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer says too many trucks are crashing into bridge overpasses, especially in Western New York.
Schumer appeared in Buffalo last week and brought the media to the CSX Railroad overpass at William and Metcalfe. That bridge, he said, has been struck by trucks 32 times in the past few years. The bridge, built in 1926, has just a 12-foot clearance.
Schumer is calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct an investigation. He wants national standards to be issued in the use of GPS units in commercial trucks... and we sincerely hope the U.S. DOT is paying attention.
WBFO's Eileen Buckley reported that many professional trucking companies equip their vehicles with commercial GPS units to avoid these types of collisions. But unfortunately, there are also many independent operators who do not use commercial GPS units and try to get by on the cheap, allowing their drivers to use non-commercial devices such as a personal GPS or a smartphone.
Those devices are often unaware of which routes include low clearance bridges, and/or make no distinctions for commercial vehicles.
Schumer has written to U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood to inform him that: "GPS-related bridge strikes in New York now represent over 80 percent of all such accidents.
Schumer explained the severity of the problem too. He said, "Despite the great efforts of the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to increase signage (a $3 million expense) and develop new alert systems for drivers over the past number of years, reports from local police organizations continue to fault the reliance on basic GPS technology as the main culprit in many of these low-bridge commercial truck accidents. These accidents represent a great nuisance for the public and the taxpayer, as they continue to increase the cost of bridge repairs, clog up our roadways, and increase the potential of catastrophe in the event of a hazardous spill."
The frequency of such collisions is disturbing to say the least. According to Schumer, the NYDOT's own data says about 200 bridge accidents per year have occurred in New York State since 2005.
How many do you think USDOT might count if they added it all up nationwide?
The problems are avoidable. Let's hope the USDOT expedites Senator Schumer's request and mandates commercial GPS usage for all commercial vehicles. American taxpayers should not be on the hook for either the negligence or stupidity of private trucking companies damaging our nation's bridges and highways because they can't do the math or are too cheap to care.