When truckers ignore or fail to see height limitations, striking bridges and overpasses, the resulting debris or trucking accident can pose a serious threat to highway safety. In the latter part of 2012 in Pelham, New York, a semi struck an overpass, despite “Low Bridge – No Truck” painted warnings on the surface of the roadway. According to the driver, whose truck was badly damaged in the accident, he was following his GPS, which directed him onto the roadway despite his truck’s inability to clear the overpass.
Five weeks prior to this accident, Charles J. Fuschillo, a Long Island State Senator, held a hearing on this very issue. Furthermore, Charles Schumer, a United States Senator responded to the growing problem of trucks colliding with low bridge underpasses by calling for the national standardization of GPS devices that are truck-specific, that will not include banned parkways in commercial vehicles’ routes. Reportedly, Schumer announced in March, 2013 that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will implement “brand new federal standards for GPS-use among commercial truck drivers [that] will be the first major steps to thwarting life-threatening bridge strikes that have been causing massive delays and imposing significant costs on taxpayers for far too long.”
However, this is certainly not a perfect solution. Truckers will still have to input their truck’s axle weight, size, and other details for the GPS to work properly, assuming they use the correct navigation system at all. Furthermore, twenty percent of the 200 bridge strikes per year in New York are not GPS related and, thus, would not be solved with this system.
Bridge striking accidents are certainly not limited to New York and neither is the threat to highway safety that they pose. Low clearance areas all over the United States are danger zones for trucking accidents that endanger motorists because of the resulting debris shed from the top of a semi or the sudden stoppage of a truck. If a motorist is involved in an accident that resulted from a semi attempting to go under an overpass that is too low for the truck’s clearance, they should contact an experienced trucking accident attorney immediately.