GPS Devices Damaging Thousands Of Bridges?

from the ignore-your-navigation-system dept

In the past, we've seen stories of GPS navigation devices not knowing enough about local roads that the directions were often inappropriate for the type of vehicle -- especially trucks. It had resulted in signs being placed on roads, begging drivers to ignore their own navigation devices. Engadget now points us to a report from the UK suggesting that bad directions from navigation devices was responsible for damage to about 2,000 bridges. That seems like quite a lot. The claim is that the devices direct trucks who are much too heavy to go over bridges not designed for that kind of load. Work is now being done to get the navigation companies to at least understand the types of roads and bridges, and how that corresponds to different types of vehicles.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    JB, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 12:31pm

    Has this data ever been available?

    I'm pretty sure that "old-fashioned" paper maps don't specify weight limits for bridges either, so hasn't this always been a problem?

     

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      PaulT (profile), Feb 14th, 2008 @ 12:36pm

      Re: Has this data ever been available?

      The difference is that drivers didn't have the same tendency to turn off all rational thought when using paper. Before GPS, they still thought they had to look for the road signs telling them of important information e.g. weight and height limits on bridges. Now, they just ignore them in favour of the omnipotent GPS.

      Are people really that dumb? If fear the answer is yes.

       

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    Rekrul, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 12:48pm

    Stupid question; Why don't they upgrade those bridges so that they CAN handle the weight?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 1:05pm

    The trucks need to buy special software designed for trucks. Such as "Co-Pilot" (at least here in the US) It handles routing for trucks... including Haz-mat routes.

     

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      ehrichweiss, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 3:24pm

      Re:

      Yep, plus most of the seasoned truckers tend to pay attention to this type of thing anyway just like they have to pay attention to signs that say "Low clearance" for a bridge.

       

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    Sea Man, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 1:13pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm afraid all the money in the world can't fix stupid.

     

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    claire rand, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 1:15pm

    not gps

    most of these are 'bridge bashes' where a truck hits, seriously or otherwise, a rail over bridge, thus stopping the trains till the bridge is inspected.

    this has been going on for years

    GPS devices aimed at cars being used in trucks probably doesn't help

    but this is not a GPS issue, we've had bridges with signs, height sensors on the approach and big flashing signs says 'turn back overheight vehicle' and _still_ the bridge gets hit.

    some people don't have the brains of a meat pie, and then some people do...

     

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    David Lagesse, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 1:18pm

    Satellite Resolution Based Mapping

    My GPS had me go down a dead end road.
    Walls and fences separate public road from private property roads, or main roads from local neighborhood roads. The resolution of the Satellite View that the GPS mapping program was based on, can not see that the wall or fence is there, it just looks like a driveway access.
    My relative lives in a Mobile Home Park, the roads sometimes go right up to the wall, the GPS thinks there are many "entrances". "Turn right, 100 feet." Ya! Right across the curb and sidewalk and right into the wall!

     

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    Whirler, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 1:25pm

    The remedy has always been to remove the idiot from the vehicle.

     

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    BlowURmindBowel, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 1:37pm

    The solution has always been to remove the idiot from the submit button...

     

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    madmike, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 1:37pm

    A GPS receiver is just a tool. If someone's too stupid to use it correctly, is it the GPS company's fault? If the driver is paying that little attention to what's outside the vehicle, they have other problems.

     

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    BlowURmindBowel, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 1:39pm

    I thought doing it four times would be funnier, but I honestly apologize Whirler, something is seriously borked with techdirt today...

     

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    f1r3f0g, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 2:13pm

    Maybe what they need to do

    Is provide better information.

    Input the weight of the vehicle (Laden and Unladen?) into the GPS.
    Have load bearing information of the bridges in the map.

    If the weight of the vehicle exceeds the bridge, it's a null route.
    Maybe even provide routes for Laden and unladen weights in a different colour.

    Not sure what information can be out into a GPS map, so no idea if this would work.

     

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    ryan ease, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 3:25pm

    most bridges probably don't even show up on a gps

    because in my area, the only water crossing it knows about are major rivers. Smaller rivers (say less than 70' across) usually aren't on the map, so to the gps, it's just a road.

    Obviously with developing GIS technologies, you're gps is going to know everything, be in 3d, able to determine the type of vehicle by accelerometers, and be constantly updated through a the internet connection that is going to be built into every vehicle.

     

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    Jonathan26, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 4:25pm

    Professional Truckers

    For years, trucking companies have relied on services like Rand-Mcnally, PC Miler and ProMiles to provide truck-specific routing. These services all took into account clearance and weight issues as well as practicality (interstate versus 2 lane routes). The internet came along and offered FREE routing (google, mapquest, etc.) and now inexpensive GPS units draw on those same low-cost map databases. You get what you pay for.

     

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    Schizoid, Feb 14th, 2008 @ 4:57pm

    Here we go again...

    The GPS companies don't need to accommodate for anything regarding this. Instead, the blaming fools and any other idiot who agrees with them needs to quit pointing the fricken finger and take accountability. Either put the necessary signs on and before the bridge or slap the dipsticks too brain dead to drive and abide by such signs. No different than all these other stupid comatose people/parents wanting to blame the government and everyone and everything else other than themselves for their own faulty problems in life.

     

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    Twinrova, Feb 15th, 2008 @ 3:54am

    Don't blame the driver, blame the city.

    Excuse me, but regardless if the GPS system directed a truck towards an old bridge or not is irrelevant if the city itself didn't post weight limits on the bridge.

    I've yet to see 2,000+ truck drivers risk taking a 30,000lb truck over a bridge rated for 10,000lb or less.

    That would be one very, very stupid truck driver.

     

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    Michael Armstrong, Feb 15th, 2008 @ 7:52am

    Garmin GPS Equipment...

    at least my i5 and the Nuvi, have a setting for the type of vehicle in which the device is installed. Truck, car, motorcycle, and I think one other choice.

    Not a 100% solution, but it does help. That and some common sense on the part of the driver.

     

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    Josh, Feb 15th, 2008 @ 7:54am

    Weight limit signs

    I know they aren't on every bridge, but alot of bridges I drive over have signs saying "No trucks over x tons" or other markings.

    Blame technology for idiots who can't use it correctly and expect it to think for them. Of course, the commercials for the damn things make it seem like the devices are omnipotent, but that's just marketing droids being idiots as well.

     

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