New York City seeks GPS input from truckers

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | Thursday, January 31, 2013

The New York City Department of Transportation is asking truckers what type of GPS they use in an attempt to provide accurate routing information to the technology providers.

NYCDOT reached out to truckers on Thursday via the social media site Twitter.

“Truckers – what GPS systems do you use? Let us know so we can be sure to provide the companies with the most accurate route info,” the agency asked.

If you have a Twitter account, you can respond to the agency’s question @NYC_DOT. If you do not use Twitter, you can email the agency at socialmedia@dot.nyc.gov.

GPS continues to be a hot topic in New York City and the state, particularly routing for trucks.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, filed a bill last year that would establish a standard for commercial GPS units in an effort to cut down on the number of truck versus bridge strikes.

Officials, law enforcement and even some truckers themselves have blamed consumer-based GPS for routing trucks onto parkways that are restricted due to low bridge heights.

In late 2011, the New York State DOT issued a recommendation to prohibit truckers from relying on consumer-based GPS to do their routing. The agency developed the recommendation based on numerous studies of late regarding bridge strikes.

“Since GPS units are being used more frequently because of their ability to reroute in real time, mandating the use of GPS units customized for trucks will have a significant contribution in reducing bridge hits,” NYSDOT stated at the time.

A more recent study released in January by the City College of New York’s Transportation Research Center shows that approximately 200 bridges are struck by trucks annually.

The study identifies where the problem areas are as well, saying that approximately 44 percent of the bridge strikes during the past 10 years have occurred on just 32 of the state’s 20,000 bridges. The study also highlights problem areas around the country.

City and state agencies provide maps that include bridge clearances on their websites.

But as Land Line reported in a story last fall, posted bridge height and actual bridge height for New York bridges can vary by 12 inches and possibly more, and that adds to the confusion for drivers and destination planners.

For example, a bridge that has actual clearance of 13-foot 2-inches will often be posted at 12-foot 2-inches. The NYSDOT says the buffer accounts for differences in pavement conditions or ice that could occur, and it means the difference between safe passage and a possible bridge strike. But many truckers say they do not trust the 12-inch buffer system.

Many experienced truckers have weighed in to say there’s no substitute for good map-reading skills, accurate information and thorough route planning to avoid problems.

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