Trucking accidents involving commercial trucks and a bridge or overpass have been increasing in number within the last few years with many commercial truck drivers and commercial trucking companies blaming the increase on faulty commercial GPS systems. Many of these accidents result in serious personal injuries or death. In the New York City area alone over the last two years, there have been more than 200 incidents of trucks or buses colliding with low bridges or overpasses, many of which are blamed on faulty GPS directions. In addition, according to the National Transportation Department, there were over 15,000 bridge strikes nationwide in 2010 alone, resulting in over 200 deaths and 3000 injuries, many resulting in personal injuries and wrongful death lawsuits. Since over 80% of these occurred on roads that restricted or prohibited large commercial vehicle traffic, the issue of whether a faulty GPS reading was involved becomes even more relevant
Whose Is More At Fault?
Determining fault in personal injury cases caused by trucks colliding with bridges or overpasses due to faulty GPS instructions is tricky. In most states, the majority of the blame still rests with the driver of the truck rather than the GPS manufacturer. States such as New York are seeking legislation that will require GPS units used in commercial trucks be equipped with truck route information. However, even in such states, the legislation would not require GPS units be installed in commercial trucks, only that they carry appropriate information if they are in use. In addition, the premise for blaming the driver more than the GPS manufacturer is that the driver is believed to be the ultimate authority on where and how the truck is driven. While a GPS unit may tell a driver to follow a particular route, it is ultimately up to the driver to also take note of road conditions and street signs that warn of bridge and overpass heights and whether or not a particular road is a valid truck route. Another factor that is considered is whether the GPS unit is a generic consumer system or a commercial GPS made specifically for large trucks and other commercial vehicles. Most commercial truck GPS devices contain and relay more complex information than other consumer GPS systems, information such as bridge clearances and what roads trucks should or should not be traveling on, information that a general consumer GPS system would not need to include. However, even if the commercial GPS system that is supposed to relay accurate information about bridge heights and road restrictions did not provide accurate or updated information, the majority of the blame still lands on the driver of the truck.
What About the Trucking Companies?
In some scenarios, the trucking company may also have some liability in these collisions, depending on the employment relationship with the truck driver and how much influence the company has in deciding which GPS units to place in the trucks. As the commercial GPS systems are more expensive to purchase, companies will sometimes try to cut costs by installing the more generic but less effective for trucks consumer GPS systems. Another factor in determining the trucking company’s liability in a personal injury case of this nature is whether the truck driver is a full employee of the company or an independent contractor and whether the truck is owned by the company or the driver.
Kat Williams is a personal injury law blogger. She knows that driving on the roads in any form of transportation is extremely dangerous, especially when biking in traffic. When injured in an accident due to other drivers or faulty equipment as a biker, seek legal help .