LAKEVIEW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Sen. Charles Schumer has announced new federal rules to help prevent trucks from striking low bridge underpasses.
Schumer has spoken out about the problem in the past. In September, the senator called for standardized truck-specific GPS devices to prevent commercial vehicles from driving on the parkways from which they are banned.
The senator took up the issue following a bridge strike on the Hutchinson Parkway earlier that month.
Speaking just off the Southern State Parkway in Lakeview on Long Island on Monday, Schumer announced changes being put in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
“These brand new federal standards for GPS-use among commercial truck drivers 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,” said Schumer. “I am pleased that the DOT heeded my call for reforms and I am confident that the combination of official recommendations and GPS-training will limit the number of low bridge strikes across the Hudson Valley. Thank you to FMCSA Administrator Ferro for recognizing the importance of this serious issue and for implementing a proactive approach towards teaching the industry how to eliminate GPS-related accidents.”
Schumer says the federal transportation officials will begin distributing official recommendations about the proper use of GPS devices in commercial vehicles.
Tips will include instructions to input the size, axle weight and other important details of the commercial truck into the GPS.
“Even one truck or bus striking an overpass is one too many, which is why we’re taking action to ensure professional truck and bus drivers know the importance of selecting the right navigation system,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro.
In addition to brochures and fliers that will be distributed by the FMCSA to truck operators, the federal agency will also have a mandatory entry-level certification program from commercial truck drivers.
“This sort of outreach campaign combined with driver training for CDL [commercial drivers license] holders will, in fact, solve the problem,” Ferro told reporters including WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.
In recent months, several parkways had ‘Low Bridge — No Truck’ warnings painted on the roadways, but some officials argued the warnings don’t help prevent trucks from getting onto the parkways in the first place.
Schumer said police figures show that 80 percent of bridge strikes statewide are GPS-related.
“Education will solve this as long as they have an alternative, which they now have,” Schumer said.
Commercial truck traffic is banned on New York State Parkways because the overpasses are typically too low for trucks to drive under. A recent New York State Department of Transportation study found that there have been more than 200 bridge accidents a year since 2005. About a quarter of these accidents happened in Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, according to the study.
Schumer has said that uptick in recent years is due to GPS devices providing drivers with the most direct routes despite the fact that trucks are not allowed on some roadways.
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