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Making the Right Turn

Truck-Specific Navigation Steers Drivers Away From Hazards

Government statistics reveal the scope of the bridge-strike problem. Figures from the U.S. Department of Transportation show that in a five-year period, large trucks struck bridge supports, bridge overhead structures or bridge rails thousands of times annually: 3,421 times in 2010; 2,505 times in 2011; 2,676 in 2012; 5,139 times in 2013; and 4,209 times in 2014, the most recent year for which the DOT said it could provide figures. Fifteen of the crashes in that span were fatal, according to DOT.

Bridge strikes on parkways in the New York metropolitan area once prompted Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to propose that the United States set standards for GPS devices used by truck and bus drivers.

The Trucking Association of New York and American Trucking Associations suggested an industry awareness and education effort, which was taken up by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The agency today offers a visor card, “GPS Selection Guide for CMVs,” for distribution in the trucking industry and works with commercial driver training schools to encourage them to provide information on the selection of navigation systems.

FMCSA notes on its website that it does not have crash statistics associated with the use of electronic navigation but says it believes bridge strikes are avoidable “by paying closer attention to road signs and by the use of only those electronic navigation systems intended for trucks and buses.”

Covenant uses a telematics system made by Omnitracs that includes a navigation program called NaviGo, provided by Telogis.

The truckload carrier wanted to provide its drivers with accurate directions for trip planning “to be safer on the road,” Schrier said.

The fleet also created geofences for all of its customer locations and “points of interest,” as they are called in some navigation systems.

Drivers already had been guided to correct addresses, Schrier said, but that didn’t mean they actually knew how to enter a distribution location.

“There might be five, six, seven gates and only one of them will allow a truck to pass through,” he said. “We wanted to ensure that the truck knew what gate to go to the first time and that we had no end-mile accidents because of not giving drivers the right direction on a gate.”

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By Stephen Bennett
Contributing Writer

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