How come we can get trucks to Mars but not under low bridges on earth?

| September 27, 2012

It’s surprising how little oversight there is in the use of GPS devices in a moving vehicle. Maybe you see that as a good, free-market, thing, or maybe worry about where it’s taking our driving future.

New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer says GPS is possibly the cause of a lot of big trucks crashing into bridges and doing an immense amount of damage in terms of time and money. And he is astounded because, as he says, ‘”If we have the technology to send a truck to Mars, we have the technology to prevent trucks from crashing into bridges here in Long Island.”

I wonder if the Mars rover Curiosity is using GPS, although I’m pretty sure its creators do not consider it a truck.

Earth-bound truckers in unfamiliar territory are finding their way on to roads they should not be on by following GPS directions, says Schumer. Still following those directions they attempt to pass under bridges that are lower than they expect and for which the GPS provides no warning. Result: top of truck hits bottom of bridge.

So Schumer has asked the Federal Department of Transportation to investigate, and to draw up a set of national standards to ensure whichever GPS a trucker relies on has adequate information so that he doesn’t get on to dangerous roads or roads with too-low bridges.

In his appeal to to the DOT, via a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Schumer says, ““These accidents are frequent, costly, dangerous and entirely avoidable. All the information we need to prevent these accidents is available, all we have to do is make sure it gets into the hands of the truck.”

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