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CBS 2 Investigates: When Low Overpasses Meet Tractor-Trailers The Results Can Be Disastrous

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There is a growing danger on the road in the New York area. Trucks have been hitting overpasses at an alarming rate, causing delays on your ride to work.

Tractor trailers have had their roofs torn off and hurled debris everywhere. On the Northern State Parkway traffic was backed up for miles after one such incident, part of the New Jersey Turnpike was shut down for hours after a truck had its cargo hold torn off.

“It could injure or kill people,” explained AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair.

As CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson reported, it happens all the time and causes miles and miles of backups. The King Street Bridge off of the Hutchinson River Parkway has been hit nearly 100 times in recent years.

“The number one location for bridge hits in the state is King Street,” Sinclair said.

Despite signs that warn truck drivers, Sinclair said that they continue to drive on roads designated for cars only. Some of those roads have overpasses as low as 7 feet, just a foot taller than the average SUV. A tractor-trailer is twice as tall.

“It’s a very tough situation. Something that we need to prevent,” Sinclair said.

And it isn’t just trucks.

Lynn Fortino and her daughter Danielle rented a party bus to take them to a wedding. On their way to the wedding the bus hit an overpass in Rye.

“The panic alarms started going off. It smoked,” Fortino said.

None of the passengers were injured, but the Fortinos said that the ordeal could have been avoided.

“I feel the driver should be prepared prior to the arrangement,” Danielle said.

Experts said that not all commercial drivers are prepared, and that many don’t use specialized GPS for trucks.

“Eighty-percent of low bridge strikes are caused by truckers who are looking at GPS systems that don’t warn them off the highway, that don’t warn them the bridge is too low,” U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.

Sen. Schumer is pushing for nationwide standards for GPS devices that will do a better job directing commercial drivers.

“You need to be aware before you get out on the road that something like this may happen. It happens a lot,” Sinclair said.

In May, the Department of Transportation rolled out a pilot program on the Northern State Parkway using infrared vehicle detection to alert truck drivers that they were getting on the wrong road.

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