Guided by faulty information obtained from Global Positioning System (GPS) devices causing truckers to hit low bridges in New York more than 200 times each year, according to a U.S. senator who wants the Dept. of Transportation to issue nationwide standards for GPS devices in commercial trucks.

In a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said the absence of GPS standards results in many situations in which trucks use GPS devices that do not differentiate between roads on which trucks are allowed and on which they are not. 

According to a recent New York State Dept. of Transportation study, over 200 bridge accidents per year have occurred in New York since 2005. Of that total, over 25% of these accidents occurred in Nassau, Suffolk or Westchester counties. Forty-three bridges were hit on Long Island’s parkways in 2011. According to a 2009 study, 80% of bridge strikes are caused by misdirection from GPS devices. 

Schumer noted that these accidents, in addition to being life threatening, cause massive delays and impose significant costs on taxpayers. 

“These accidents are frequent, costly, dangerous and entirely avoidable. If we have the technology to send a truck to Mars, we have the technology to prevent trucks from crashing into bridges,” he said.

Repairs on the Long Island Expressway alone due to truck-bridge accidents have cost $4.1 million, Schumer said. In addition, the state has spent $3 million for 300 bridge warning signs, he added.

According to DOT data, there were 15,000 bridge strikes by all types of vehicles in 2010, resulting in 214 deaths and 3,000 injuries.