March 12, 2013 4:00 PM, EDT

FMCSA Warns Truckers to Use Truck-Specific GPS

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has begun distributing cards to truck drivers warning them that using GPS navigation devices meant for smaller vehicles can be dangerous and could lead to trucks hitting low bridges.

FMCSA posted its official recommendations on its website as a “visor card,” meant for drivers to keep in their trucks.

It urges use of GPS devices designed for large trucks that incorporate road restrictions such as low bridges — and directs truck drivers on how to avoid them.

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced the GPS recommendations Monday at a Scarsdale, N.Y., bridge that is often hit by trucks, Schumer said in a statement.

“These brand-new federal standards for GPS use among commercial truck drivers will be the first major steps to thwarting life-threatening bridge strikes that have been causing massive delays and imposing significant costs on taxpayers for far too long,” Schumer said.

He thanked FMCSA “for recognizing the importance of this serious issue and for implementing a proactive approach toward teaching the industry how to eliminate GPS-related accidents.”

In addition to distributing the recommendations, FMCSA will require GPS device training as a part of an upcoming recommendation mandating training for all entry-level truck and bus drivers, Schumer said.

About 80% of bridge strikes in New York state result from large vehicles whose drivers do not use the right navigation devices, Schumer said, citing a 2009 study.

In September, Schumer asked the Department of Transportation to study the issue and recommend federal standards for large-vehicle GPS devices. FMCSA is a DOT agency.

Click here for FMCSA’s main web page on the recommendation.

Click here to print the GPS “visor card” for trucks. (PDF)