BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) -
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer says misused GPS receivers is part of the problem behind tractor trailers getting stuck beneath underpasses.
Schumer calls this a long standing hazard that threatens the safety of motorists across western New York that puts a dent in the wallet of taxpayers and disrupts commerce. He wants to see a national standard for GPS devices in semis.
He says trucks are hitting bridges and that personal GPS devices and smartphones don't select routes with low clearance bridges in mind.
"For most of us, the GPS units are a North star guiding us home at the end of the day. But for many of our truckers, the faith we put in the machines turns out to be dangerous," Schumer said.
Citing a state Department of Transportation study, Schumer says since 2005 there have been 200 bridge strikes each year in the state. Erie County, he says, is the third hardest hit county in the state when it comes to bridge strikes.
Schumer said, "It turns out in 80 percent of the cases that trucks hit bridges they are being led onto to these roadways by their GPS devices."
Would a a new national standard for commercial GPS devices be possible? James Manno of Sonwill Distribution Center says commercial GPS units are available and being used by many trucking companies.
"This is going to be helpful for the whole industry, and for the community at large. The technology is there, and enhanced to the point where it will give you that information. It's a matter of having the choice of whether you want to invest in it or not," Manno said.
According to Schumer, New York State has spent $3 million for 300 new bridge warning signs to educate truck drivers. Despite those efforts, trucks are still striking bridges.
"Most local Buffalo truckers, they know about this bridge. But if you're from out-of-town, the GPS routes you down this street and you think it's fine. So you don't even read the signs," Schumer noted.
Schumer says these costly crashes are dangerous and entirely avoidable. Schumer spoke Thursday at William and Metcalfe Streets, where a CSX overpass has been hit 32 times.
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